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Senate public hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Zamboanga City was to have been held at 2 pm, today, Friday at the at the gymnasium of the Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College (ZCSPC).

Leading the 8-senate team is Juan Miguel Zubiri, chairperson.

Expected to have attended the forum were the city’ 98 barangay captains, the Federation of Barangay Kagawad in Zamboanga Associations (Febarkaza,) who were expected to submit their respective position papers.

As a stakeholder, though not part of government, already having two in the family present – Councilor Boday Cabato and Barangay Chair Aimie Cabato, feeling assured things are well in place, this corner has chosen to keep distance. After all, SS is acknowledged to have been one of those in the forefront during the fighting years against RAG, SPCPD and the original BBL version, closely behind the mother and son tandem - Ma’am Caling and Celso Lobregat.

And Celso, yes! With also his presence there in mind, SS is confident things there were clearly under control.

In the historical appearance of Celso Lobregat in the sanctimonious Supreme Court floor, where for the first time a non-lawyer clad only in barong Pilipino – not a robe – was allowed to speak,

Lobregat, then Mayor, in shining moment, showed the world, he distinctively knows the Muslim Autonomous Region issue like he knows the back of the palm of his hand.

The act even elicited praises from then Solicitor General Leila B. de Lima, who was defending the constitutionality of the BBL which was under litigation. She later spoke on TV, “When your Mayor started arguing, wala na. Surrender agad ako”

Manny Piñol, then North Cotabato Vice Governor and now Agriculture Secretary, also heaped accolade on Lobregat, as he appeared before TV cameras, “I envy your Mayor. He was allowed to speak before justices in open court. (Apparently impressed, added.) You have a gem in your hand, do not lose him.”

With regard to BBL of today, Lobregat, Committee on Local Government, Peace, Reconciliation and Unity member, revealed that the lower house version of the working draft for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has already been submitted and is now being deliberated in the joint congressional committees.

They already discussed the proposed BBL provision by provision, he added, and have “agreed to disagree” on its constitutionality and partiality, taking into consideration the unconstitutional provisions which need to be discussed thoroughly.

Lobregat said that the sub-committee, chaired by Rep. Wilter Wee Palma II (1st District, Zamboanga Sibugay) and represented by at least three members each from the three committees, is now coming up with a consolidated working draft bill based on several bills authored separately by  individual congressman, including House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

As such, SS has no qualms about the final draft of the BBL. Alvarez is a dyed-in-the-wool Duterte supporter. Going by the avowals of Duterte that he will not allow any unconstitutional provision in the BBL, plus the eagle eyes of Lobregat, that is it. We will be having an acceptable BBL, unlike that of the Aquino-initiated draft.

Therefore, things said and being done, SS is of the humble opinion – whether the present governance machinery stays or is transformed to federal, it’s a go-go, provided the Duterte-Lobregat pronouncements prevail. If it does,as it definitely will, Zamboanga City is out of the Bangsamoro region. They may have theirs, that’s their right. But let us have ours, too. That is likewise our right. (By Jimmy Cabato)

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