But Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian maintained that the BBL should be within the framework of the 1987 Constitution for it to get Congress approval.
“All Filipinos will benefit from a lasting peace in Mindanao. Peace does not only bring order and security but it will also help uplift the lives of the people there,” Gatchalian said.
“For as long as the BBL does not violate any provision of our Constitution, every lawmaker should support it,” he added.
A member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), Gatchalian expressed hope for the draft law to raise the level of investments in the Bangsamoro region.
He explained the peace pact will guarantee that the Bangsamoro will be a fertile ground for the much-needed investments.
“A peaceful environment is a pre-condition to businesses, and when there are more economic opportunities, it will be easier for people to rise from poverty and be financially independent,” Gatchalian explained.
Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), Gatchalian hoped, will help foster inclusive growth by generating jobs needed to revitalize the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),
Poverty incidence among families in the ARMM in 2012 reached to 48.7 percent, from 39.9 percent in 2009.
Initial employment figure in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) this year, meanwhile, is 1.29 million, a slow increase from 1.23 million last year, based on the latest labor statistics.
“The FDIs will increase the region’s current employment figure. They will stimulate job creation, boosting the number of employed persons at a faster pace,” Gatchalian explained.
He also pointed out that potential FDIs in the region will also help the country as a whole with its energy and power needs.
“Capital from foreign investors will help the Philippines move closer to being energy-independent as it will be used to survey oil and gas deposits in the Liguasan Marsh and the Sulu Sea, among other areas in the Bangsamoro region. FDIs will also give a big boost to the power sector, given the recurring power crisis in Mindanao,” he added.
Gatchalian, however, warned against the likely leakage of income from these business pursuits in the Bangsamoro region to the capital and the mishandling of revenue collections.
“We should ensure that there is retention of revenue for the Bangsamoro, that the people in the region will be the ones who will benefit from the income from FDIs, not the ones in the National Capital Region,” Gatchalian cautioned.
“There should be efficient mechanisms that will keep an eye on how taxes are collected and where they are spent. They should be invested in education, health, and infrastructure,” the solon said.
Under the Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing Annex, all of the income from non-metallic minerals such as sand and gravel should go to the Bangsamoro.
For revenues from metallic minerals, there is a 75-25 sharing agreement between the Bangsamoro and the central government, respectively. For fossil fuels, there is a 50-50 deal between the two.
Gatchalian said businesses to be set in the Bangsamoro should follow environmental regulations to guarantee sustainable development.
“Businessmen interested in the region should strictly abide by environmental policies so not only the present generation of people in Bangsamoro will profit from the expected economic boom but future generations as well,” he said.
The NPC lawmaker also said there should be assurance that indigenous communities will not be displaced.
Last month, Gatchalian met with local leaders of the cities of Cotabato and Koronadal as well as local executives of the municipalities of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Sultan Kudarat, and Datu Abdullah Sangki to solicit their views and opinions on the BBL.
It was during those consultation meetings in the Muslim areas in Mindanao that Gatchalian expressed his support for the BBL for as long as it falls within the framework of the Constitution. (Monica Cantilero)