MANILA -- The fate of the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is now in the hands of over 2 million voters in Mindanao as they decide on whether or not to join a new Bangsamoro entity.
The BOL was the result of decades of peace talks that culminated in a comprehensive agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government in 2014. It is seen to end moves towards secession in Muslim Mindanao.
A law that provides the basis for the establishment of a new autonomous Bangsamoro region failed to pass Congress under the term of former President Benigno Aquino III over questions on its constitutionality and the Mamasapano massacre, where several Moro rebels were tagged.
Under the Duterte administration, Congress was able to iron out contentious issues to finally pass the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in May 2018. Duterte signed the measure into law two months later.
Here are a some key facts about the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Bangsamoro plebiscite areas
The territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro region will be the subject of a plebiscite--January 21 and February 6--in areas under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City, Isabela City in Basilan, 6 towns in Lanao del Norte, 39 barangays in different North Cotabato towns, and other contiguous areas that seek to be included in the region.
The Bangsamoro government
55 powers of the Bangsamoro government
The law says the Bangsamoro government shall exercise authority over these matters without prejudice to the general supervision of the President of the Philippines.
- Administration of justice
- Administrative organization
- Agriculture, livestock, food security
- Ancestral domain and natural resources
- Barter trade and countertrade
- Business name registration
- Cadastral land survey
- Civil service
- Classification of public lands
- Cooperatives and social entrepreneurship
- Creation, division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundaries of municipalities and barangays
- Creation of government-owned or controlled corporations and pioneer firms
- Creation of sources of revenue
- Cultural exchange and economic and technical cooperation
- Culture and language
- Customary laws
- Development programs and laws for women, labor, the youth, the elderly, the differently-abled and indigenous peoples
- Disaster risk reduction and management
- Ecological solid waste management and pollution control
- Economic zones, industrial centers and free ports
- Education and skills training
- Eminent domain
- Environment, parks, forest management, wildlife, and nature reserves conservation
- Fishery, marine, and aquatic resources
- Grants and donations
- Hajj and Umrah
- Humanitarian services and institutions
- Human rights
- Indigenous peoples' rights
- Inland waters
- Inland waterways for navigation
- Islamic banking and finance
- Labor, employment, and occupation
- Libraries and museums, and historical, cultural, and archaeological sites
- Loans, credits, and other forms of indebtedness
- Mechanisms for consultations for women and marginalized sectors
- People's organizations
- Power sector investments
- Public utilities' operations
- Public works and infrastructure
- Quarantine regulations
- Registration of births, marriages, and deaths, copies to be furnished the Philippine Statistics Authority
- Regulation of the manufacture and distribution of food, drinks, drugs, and tobacco
- Science and technology research councils and scholarship programs
- Social services, social welfare, and charities
- Sports and recreation
- Technical cooperation for human resource development
- Tourism development
- Trade and industry
- Urban and rural planning development
- Urban land reform
- Water supply and services, flood control, and irrigation systems
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is given fiscal autonomy to achieve economic self-sufficiency and genuine development. Revenue sources for the Bangsamoro include taxes, fees, charges, an annual block grant, and revenue shares from exploration of natural resources, among others.
75-25 percent tax-sharing
The law says 75 percent of national taxes and fees collected in the region will go to the Bangsamoro government, while 25 percent will go to the national government. The 75 percent share shall "accrue" to the Bangsamoro government for the first 10 years.
5-percent block grant
The Bangsamoro government will be given a 5-percent annual block grant from the national government, which will be automatically appropriated in the budget. In the first year following the effectivity of the Bangsamoro law, the block grant should be 5 percent of the net national internal revenue tax collection and the net collection of the Bureau of Customs in the last three fiscal years.
National defense and security
Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed in the region will still be under the national government's supervision, as the law says the defense and security of the Bangsamoro region will still be the responsibility of the central government.
The Philippine National Police will directly supervise and maintain the Bangsamoro regional police office. Members of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front may be admitted to the police force within 5 years of the law's ratification.
The Philippine Coast Guard shall establish and directly supervise a regional office in the Bangsamoro region.