Tag Archives: Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)

Delete Anti-Labor Phrase in the BBL

File photo

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) is appealing to the Senators for the removal of the phrase “in accordance with the law to be passed by the Bangsamoro parliament” in the BBL, referring to the fundamental rights of the workers.

The offending phrase is in section 10 on labor rights under Senate Bill 1717, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law currently under deliberation in the Senate.

“While we support the enactment of the proposed legislation, we are disturbed at the notion that a universal and fundamental right such as workers’ rights would be subject to the whims of a regional government,” Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO said in a statement.

The placement of the phrase is also critical as it was formulated to include key phrases such as the right to self-organization, collective bargaining agreement, and the right to strike, the labor leader said. The formulation is such that these rights would be contingent on the interests of the future parliament, which may not necessarily be in favor of the working people.

According to Mata, if global experience is an indicator, a decentralized judiciary and policy making on labor standards do not inspire confidence, consistency of implementation, or hope of protection.

Experiences in India and Pakistan show that the imposition of national laws regarding labor rights hardly happen in their autonomous regions because the local elites would usually invoke “regional autonomy,” Mata said. In the United States of America, most well-known country with decentralized governments, 28 states have imposed Right to Work legislation that prohibits union security clauses in collective bargaining, thereby weakening the labor movement.

There is no reason why the same thing could not happen in the Philippines. The weakening of the central government’s capacity to regulate erring local elites amidst entrenched political dynasties, the impunity of local political magnates is pretty much guaranteed. The local labor movement will be left without any recourse or support from any other level of government, considering the very possible invocation “domestic concerns” as a ready excuse.

Indeed, we see a grim horizon for the labor movement should the offensive phrase in the BBL is retained.

Mata also noted that the proponents of indigenous people’s rights succeeded in convincing lawmakers to put stronger provisions protective of their rights by specifically invoking the IPRA Law. “If they can ensure incorporation of IPRA, then why can’t they do the same with labor,” he added.

Sentro formally endorses Leni, Walden, Akbayan after MOA signing


MORE than a week after declaring its support during the International Women’s Day rallies, Sentro formally endorsed vice-presidential candidate Leni Robredo, independent senatorial aspirant Walden Bello and the Akbayan party-list following the recent signing of their respective memorandum of agreements (MOAs) with the national labor center.

Signed last March 19 during separate meetings on the sidelines of the Sentro 4th General Council confab in Quezon City, the MOA binds the parties upon signing to “jointly and steadfastly promote and pursue (Sentro’s) labor and other social advocacies,” which were enumerated in the documents.


Included here are the general labor and social agenda drafted by Sentro, each with still specific items, such as promoting secure and quality jobs as well as “green” jobs; living wage; social protection and services; strengthening trade union, political and human rights; refiling of certain significant bills that were blocked or rejected or set aside in the past Congresses; and filing other proposed laws and policies that will truly benefit the basic sectors, and ensure national sovereignty and territorial integrity.


More comprehensive and updated Sentro priority legislative and executive agenda were presented to Akbayan, such as on various international and national issues affecting the working people; asset reforms; sustainable employment; living wage, social wage and restructuring the wage determination system; strengthening trade union rights; Labor Code reforms; issues of specific groups of workers; working women’s priority agenda; socialized housing; and institutionalizing workers’ representation.

Some of the top proposed laws that the endorsed candidates will support in the legislative and executive branches of the government are the pending or blocked bills on Security of Tenure (SOT), Freedom of Information (FOI), Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Maternity Protection, and Anti-Discrimination.

Meanwhile, although Robredo has agreed to champion Sentro’s labor agenda, there is still an ongoing discussion with her on other important issues and concerns, like Sentro’s vehement opposition to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) forged between the Philippine and US governments.

Each MOA was “individualized” in its introductory paragraphs to cite the achievements and track record of each candidate in the pursuit of the rights and welfare of the people, particularly the workers and other basic sectors, and – since all of them are either current or former legislators – for advancing other “other progressive and nationalist” causes “inside and outside the halls of Congress.”

IPs reiterate call for full inclusion of their rights in the Bangsamoro Basic Law

Groups express solidarity to the cause of the Non-Moro indigenous peoples for full inclusion of their rights in the BBL at a ritual-action in front of the House of Representatives in Quezon City. ​10 May 2015. Photo by Joseph Purugganan

Groups express solidarity to the cause of the Non-Moro indigenous peoples for full inclusion of their rights
in the BBL at a ritual-action in front of the House of Representatives in Quezon City. ​10 May 2015.
Photo by Joseph Purugganan


We are organizations from different sectors and advocacies that have been supportive of the peace process between the GPH-MILF. We share the dream of genuine peace in Mindanao that would be enjoyed by all the peoples in the region.

We recognize that the passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is a critical step towards achieving peace. This is why we have engaged the members of the Congress by participating as resource persons in the hearings, submitted position papers, and have had discussions on the critical points that would make the draft BBL truly inclusive and an instrument of correcting historical injustices in the region. We have pushed for the full inclusion of Indigenous peoples’ Rights in the BBL.

The amendment approved by the Adhoc committee of the House of Representatives on the transfer of Ancestral Domains/Ancestral Lands of Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples from exclusive power to concurrent power is a positive development that we recognize. This amendment articulates the recognition of “their ancestral domains and their rights thereto.” Further it states that “The Bangsamoro Government and the National Government shall cooperate and coordinate through existing national laws such as Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the “Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997,” to create policies for the identification, delineation and titling of ancestral domains.” (Sec. 2, Article V)

We agree, however, with the statement of the UN Special Rapporteur of Indigenous Peoples Rights Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, that the House Bill 4994 and its amended version “fall short in meeting the minimum international standards contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) for the survival, dignity, and well being of the Non-Moro Indigenous Peoples. It also diminishes some of the rights of indigenous peoples contained in IPRA.”

There are contradictory provisions in the amended version approved by the House Adhoc Committee that could seriously undermine the rights of Non-Moro indigenous peoples. While Article V, Section 2 has been amended making the creation of policies on ancestral domains part of the concurrent powers shared by both the National Government and the Bangsamoro Government, Section 3 of Article V on Exclusive powers maintains that the Bangsamoro Government shall exercise exclusive powers on Ancestral domain and Natural Resources.

Furthermore, there are provisions in the proposed BBL and retained in the version approved in the Adhoc version that effectively repeals some IPRA provisions. For example the provision in Article V Section 4 (other Exclusive Powers) gives the Bangsamoro Government exclusive powers “to recognize, constructive or traditional possession of lands and resources by indigenous cultural communities subject to judicial affirmation.” The premise of judicial affirmation is that all lands are public lands. This effectively contradicts the recognition that some domains are ancestral hence private but collectively-owned, which is the basis for the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles or CADT.

At the heart of the demand for full recognition of IP rights is the identity of the non-Moro Indigenous Peoples. For without identity, it is as if their entire being is erased. And it is from a people’s identity that rights emanate from – their right to ancestral domain, cultural integrity, governance and justice system.

However, the definition of Bangsamoro People in Article II diminishes the distinct identity of the non-Moro Indigenous Peoples, by subsuming all the “natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu” and their “Spouses and their descendants” as Bangsamoro. This clearly denies them their collective identity. Section 2 of the same article, Freedom of Choice, says that “other indigenous peoples” can choose their identity. But as the Lumad leaders say, being Teduray, or Lambangian, or Erumanen Manuvu, is not a matter of choice. You are born with your identity. Rep. Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) has a clear definition of who the Indigenous Peoples are.

Mohagher Iqbal’s statements that the MILF does not “accept in principle” the inclusion of IPRA in the BBL because it is “nowhere to be found” in any agreement signed between the MILF and the Philippine government exposed the failure of the GPH panel and the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) to defend Non-Moro indigenous peoples rights. The government has effectively sold out IP rights even at the onset of the peace negotiations. This is despite years of committed engagement by the lumads and support groups with the peace panel for the inclusion of non-Moro Indigenous Peoples rights in the BBL.

The Indigenous Peoples have been betrayed by the Aquino government. The deliberate non-inclusion of the non-Moro IP rights in the draft BBL version from the peace panel is a clear act of discrimination.

We urge the members of the House of Congress and the Senate to not let historical, cultural and social justice elude the non-Moro Indigenous Peoples once again. As legislators tasked to enact this historic law, you hold the key for this new chapter in Philippine history to progress, and the responsibility to correct historical injustices. We demand careful and thorough deliberation of the draft BBL. The benefits and consequences of this law go beyond this generation.

We appeal for public support in this endeavor to uphold the rights of our non-Moro IP brothers and sisters.

There will be no peace and justice in Mindanao without the full recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Bagong Kamalayan
Bataris Formation Center
Bayay Sibuyanon
Buklod Kababaihan
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Centro Saka, Inc. (CSI)
Concerned Citizens of Sta Cruz, Zambales (CCOS)
CLAIM (Concerned Lalloqueños Against Illegal Mining)
Ecological Society of the Philippines
Federation of Free Workers (FFW)
Focus on the Global South
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)
Kaagapay OFW Resource and Service Center, Inc
KILOS KA-Lanao (lanao del norte)
Kilusang Maralita sa Kanayunan (KILOS Ka-MagCot)
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates ( iligan city)
Labor Education and Research Network (LEARN)
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC)
Liga ng Makabagong Kabataan- Ranaw
Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Phil. Human Rights Information Center (PHILRIGHTS)
Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM)
Mindanao Tri-People Women Forum
Minadanao Tri-Women Resource Center (MTWRC)
Nagkahiusang Mag-uumang Organiko sa Agusan del Sur
National Confederation of Labor (NCL)
Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)
Peace Women Partners
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Social Action Center-Diocese of Marbel
Stop the War Coalition-Philippines
Sumpay Mindanao
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education)
Tri-People’s Organization Against Disasters (TRIPOD) Foundation
World March of Women – Pilipinas (WMW)
WomanHealth Philippines

Individual endorsers:

Professor Roland Simbulan of UP Manila
Hansley Juliano, Lecturer, Ateneo de Manila University
Dr. Helen Mendoza, University of the Philippines Diliman (retired faculty)
Ms. Aida F, Santos-Maranan, Executive Director, WEDPRO
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila
Rev. Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ.


Workers reenact Christ’s ‘present calvaries’

20150331_2 Passion of the Workers

IN OBSERVANCE of the Lenten season, members of the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa staged today in Mendiola Bridge, near Malacañang, a “people’s version” of the Passion Play depicting the many contemporary “crosses” being carried by the workers and the ordinary Filipinos.

Some protesters dressed as Roman soldiers use papier-mâché spears – representing low wages and scarce benefits, contractualization, union-busting practices, unabated price hikes of basic commodities and services, worsening poverty despite GDP “growths,” inefficient and costly public facilities like the MRT-LRT, elite democracy, patriarchy, war in Mindanao, neoliberal policies, etc. – to symbolically pierce and further hurt an actor playing as “Kristong Manggagawa,” a crucified Christ or a suffering worker.

“The Filipinos continue to suffer today under the Aquino government as Christ endured untold suffering under the tyrannical Roman Empire in the past,” Sentro said.

“President Aquino’s Tuwid na Daan has led nowhere for the working class,” Jun Santos, SENTRO campaign officer said. “After 5 years, all we got is worsening inequality,” he added.

The country’s worsening inequality – which Pope Francis called “glaring and scandalous” – is not just the result of low wages, but of a highly discriminatory form of labor regime that allows companies to put a premium on profits rather than the welfare of its workers.

“One of the worst features of today’s capitalism is the rampant use of precarious work. Contractualization and informalization of labor are the most common forms of precarious work,” Santos said. It didn’t help that President Aquino himself violated his commitment to “promote… constitutionally protected rights of workers,” found in his 21-agenda point agenda for labor and employment, by consistently ignoring calls to certify as urgent labor’s demand for the passage of the security of tenure bill or the SOT bill.

“What we need is a radical form of democracy, one where the rights and welfare of the working people, not profits, is at the center of policy making,” Santos declared.

Christ’s passion on the cross should remind us of our responsibility to participate in a historic struggle, to build a better world, one that we truly deserve. “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Sentro lauds Walden Bello for his ‘consistently principled politics, integrity, courage and dignity to fight the crooked powers that be’


Rep. Walden Bello

WALDEN Bello is now an ex-member of the House of Representatives or the lower house of Congress, the state institution known for its trappings of power and privileges, which he did not indulge in, anyway, when he was still a congressman. He could have finished his third and last term until June next year either by constantly praising and blindly obeying President Aquino or by just keeping quiet while enjoying the perks of his office, even when he sees something wrong with the P-Noy government.

But, no, Walden is not a political leech nor a lapdog of anyone who does not have or no longer have the moral high ground to govern the nation. He belongs to a still very rare breed and very small group of public officials – hopefully, their tribe will increase sooner – who truly think and act for the good of the people. It is a genuine concern for the “masa” – not the perfunctory “kayo ang boss ko” label repeated ad nauseam in live TV broadcasts, not the pretentious pledge of “dating mahirap, kaya makamahirap,” and not the deceitful “makamasa” slogans that politicians routinely use during elections to win votes.

Walden does not look and speak like a “masa” but his politics and advocacies are certainly for the “masa” as his grassroots, activist and principled politics attest to. It is oceans apart from the prevailing elite politics as well as the politics centered on party bureaucrats and politics of expediency, a euphemism actually of opportunist politics.

Thus, not surprisingly, but with a heavy heart, Walden withdrew his support for Aquino last March 11 by irrevocably resigning as the principal Akbayan party list representative in Congress. While the immediate trigger was Aquino’s speech a day before in which he brazenly washed “his hands of responsibility of (the Mamasapano) mission he planned and executed” – there were also a series of earlier events that piled up which made that Jan. 25 tragedy the proverbial last straw for Walden, an erstwhile staunch but critical supporter of Aquino.

These include his vigorous appeals to Aquino not to lose the moral high ground of his administration’s much vaunted “tuwid na daan” drive and “reform agenda” by sacking Director General Alan Purisima, who was still then the PNP chief and not yet suspended, for his several plunder and graft cases. In the same vein, Walden implored Aquino to fire at least four of his Cabinet members who are mired in anomalies or incompetence: Vice President Jejomar Binay, the government’s housing czar and presidential adviser on OFW concerns for even large-scale and decades-long corruption; Budget Secretary Florencio Abad of the PDAF and DAP infamy; Agrarian Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes for his dismal failure to fulfill CARPER; and Proceso Alcala for being a lame duck agriculture secretary.

Walden likewise suggested the shaking up of other executive departments including the DOTC, DOE and DFA as part of the needed revamp and improvement of the bureaucracy. The goal of these and other related efforts is good governance or where the government is able to honestly and effectively serve the people (whom Aquino claims to be his “bosses”) and to institute necessary measures to achieve the elusive genuine inclusive growth – amid the successive GDP “growths” under Aquino but still do not benefit the vast majority of the Filipinos.

But lo and behold! Bello was instead castigated, ostracized and disowned by the President and the government he sincerely wanted to succeed, as well as by his party leadership he thought shared his passion and commitment to truly serve the people and advance progressive agenda.

Sentro expresses its unequivocal and unwavering support to Walden Bello’s well-intentioned proposals and constructive criticisms – emphasizing that no amount of rebuking or disowning him will prevent Sentro from expressing its support to him – as long as what he conveys is for the benefit of the vast majority of people, and not a few privileged ones. Walden should have been thanked for all his efforts.

Indeed, prior to the Mamasapano tragedy, Walden honestly and persistently believed – even amid the growing doubts – in Aquino’s credibility and big potentials. Even at present, he considers Aquino as “a decent fellow untainted by corruption,” but this has been “overwhelmed by his pigheadedness, loyalty to and tolerance of corrupt and incompetent subordinates, inability to appreciate the urgent need for massive social reform, and his allowing the United States undue influence on our foreign policy and internal security policy.”

Walden said that it “seems that the President’s idea of an ally is someone who follows Malacañang’s line without question and without hesitation. It seems that an ally raising legitimate questions and criticisms is seen as sleeping with an enemy.” This is despite his unflinching support to the administration’s core legislative agenda, including the now controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Hence, Walden’s decision to quit his congressional post and privileges – as indignation to Aquino’s intransigent stand against meaningful social change as well as Aquino’s double standards and self-righteousness; and, unfortunately, in deference to the continued and unwavering support to the Aquino administration of his party’s leadership – is a paragon of statesmanship, consistently principled politics, integrity, courage and dignity to engage his adversaries head on.

Sentro and its member organizations are firmly behind you, Kasamang Walden. Mabuhay ka! Mabuhay ang prinsipyadong pulitika!