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Top lawyer seeks clear-cut protection for Cabatangan


Atty. Vic R. Solis, a top Zamboangueño lawyer, has urged Rep. Celso Lobregat to improve the text of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL regarding the ARMM properties in Cabatangan “so that there will be no future equivocation or opportunity for multiple interpretations on the intent of Congress on the subject.”

According to him, the section of the BBL coveringproperties owned by ARMM, which include several hectares in Cabatangan, is not “crystal clear” and should be “upgraded to a higher level of clarity” by Rep. Lobregat during the deliberations on the bill by the bicameral conference committee.

Ironically, Atty. Solis said, “the present provision covering the ARMM properties, as found in Article 18, Sec. 1 of RA 9054, or the law amending RA 6734, the organic act creating ARMM, is even more express and explicit than the BBL provision on the subject, which is, Article 16, Sec. 10.”

RA 9054 was approved in 2001, and provides a step-by-step procedure for the transfer of  ARMM properties. However, the transfer of the Cabatangan properties from the ARMM government to the national government, and then to the local government has not been implemented for the past 17 years.

According to Atty. Solis, the final draft of the BBL, which was approved by Congress on third and final reading last week, shows that Zamboanga City will not be included in the proposed territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro government.

There is no possibility for the city to be included within the Bangsamoro because, according to the House version of the BBL, there will be no further or “periodic plebiscites” after the first plebiscite or ratification of the BBL, he explained.

“The House version of the BBL removing the ‘periodic plebiscites’ provisionis the same as that of the Senate version. Hence, Rep. Lobregat can now concentrate his efforts on the issue of the Cabatangan properties,” Atty. Solis said.

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