Solons discuss children’s rights in BBL

BBL_learning session

Legislators committed to support children’s rights in the proposed law that will create a Bangsamoro political entity in a learning session organized by PLCPD on January 28.

Speaking on the challenges in the formulation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, PLCPD Vice President, reiterated his commitment to work on guaranteeing the protection and welfare of children in the Bangsamoro. He stressed the importance of legislating enabling laws that reflect the country’s international commitments in upholding children’s rights rights, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“There is a need for a transitory provision in the BBL that states that national laws (on child protection) are applied in the Bangsamoro until the [Bangsamoro parliament] has enacted a law of the same spirit,” he said.

Bukidnon Rep. Malou Acosta-Alba, a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL, provided updates on the deliberations of the committee. She also shared that while many issues have surfaced in the committee discussions, there are apparently issues—including children’s rights—that have not been discussed.

Non-derogation clause

Atty. Benedicto Bacani of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance pointed out the general repealing clause in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that ensures that no law will be enacted by the regional assembly that is inconsistent with national laws. He suggested that it may help to ease doubts on the matter if a non-derogation clause will be included in the BBL. A non-derogation clause in the BBL prevents the Bangsamoro regional government from detracting national laws or international agreements that the Philippines has signed into.

Compelling imperative

UNICEF Representative to the Philippines, Ms. Lotta Sylwander, urged the legislators to carry on the advocacy. Citing statistics that show how children in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) lag behind their peers in other regions in terms of education, nutrition and vaccination, and access to safe water and electricity—making them vulnerable in times of conflict, Ms. Sylwander stressed the importance of promoting child rights in the Bangsamoro.

“The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) has opened the doors for lasting peace and sustainable development for the people. The Bangsamoro Basic Law is now the next milestone. Children must come first!” she said.

Specific amendments

The discussion concluded with the agreement to put forward proposed amendments to the bill, namely: a provision ensuring the participation of children in governance and the prohibition of recruitment of children to armed groups.

Representatives Grex Lagman, Lawrence Fortun, and Susan Yap also attended the activity. Other participants include legislative staff of other legislators and the committee secretary of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children.