DOE not ready to pass energy powers to Bangsamoro

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THE Department of Energy (DOE) cannot yet devolve its responsibilities to the proposed Bangsamoro region due to national security considerations.

There are so many complex things that still need to be studied before integrating energy matters into the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), DOE Assistant Secretary Atty. Gerald Erguiza, Jr. told the House committees on local government and Muslim affairs as well as the special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity during the hearing on the BBL last week.

The hearing also tackled other possible areas of coverage of the proposed BBL such as natural resources, land titling and the BBL’s constitutionality with officials of the DOE, Department of Transportation, Supreme Court, and the Land Management Bureau (LMB) giving insights and suggestions.

Erquiza said all energy matters should be largely regulated by the national and central government.

“(Power) transmission lines are matters of national security and therefore should be regulated by the national or central government. National security is a primordial state concern,” he said.

LMB Director Atty. Emelyne Talabis said the agency supports the passage of the BBL and the devolution of cadastral survey to the Bangsamoro government, including the land disposition of public lands, land management, land declassification, and all other aspects of land administration and management.

Rep. Wilter Palma requested all the resource persons to submit their position papers as well as geographical maps and cadastral surveys of the proposed Bangsamoro region.

In another hearing also last week, retired Justice and Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) Chairman Manuel Lazaro said the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro region would require an amendment of the whole Constitution.

Under the 1986 Constitution, there are only two autonomous regions being recognized namely, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Hence, these autonomous regions are constitutional creations and cannot be abolished by law. They can only be abolished by an amendment to the constitution, he said.

The committee on local government is chaired by Rep. Pedro Acharon, Jr., while the committee on Muslim Affairs is chaired by Rep. Mauyag Papandayan, Jr. The special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity is chaired by Rep. Ruby Sahali.

Other resource persons invited to the hearings were representatives of the Southern Philippines Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Foreign Affairs, different academic and banking institutions.

rw: wjg

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