VICE President Jejomar Binay defended on Saturday the alternative Bangsamoro bill being proposed by Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., bolstering speculations that the two of them had already come to an agreement for the 2016 elections.
“Marcos is not against the [Bangsamoro Basic Law proposed by the Palace],” Binay said in a radio interview, adding that the BBL being proposed by the Palace violates the Constitution and will likely be stricken down by the Supreme Court.
“All he wants is peace for the Filipino people,” the Vice President said, explaining that Marcos’ alternative Basic Law on Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) had better chances of establishing a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
The defense of Marcos led to questions on whether he had already reached an agreement with the senator on the possibility of running together in next year’s election, but Binay declined to give a definitive answer.
“Only a few are being considered, but we’re still deciding until now,” Binay said, admitting that he is indeed maintaining talks with the senator, whom he described as being very strong in Northern Luzon and among the young.
“The negative perception of Bongbong is that he was the son of the late President Marcos,” the 72-year-old Vice President said of the 57-year-old senator.
“But the Marcos era is over. It no longer exists. What we have fought before had already been won. It’s no longer an issue,” Binay said. “We are 102 million in population. I will be hypocrite if I claimed that the uneasiness and discomfort of the victims of Martial Law have gone. But that is over.”
“The atrocities committed by the Japanese during Second World War were horrible. But now, our relationship with Japan is excellent. That chapter has ended. We have to move on,” Binay said.
“All I want is a unifying and healing administration,” added the Vice President.
Marcos himself was the keynote speaker at an assembly of barangay chairmen in Cebu City where he lamented that the country’s economic expansion has not trickled down to ordinary Filipinos.
The senator was warmly welcomed by barangay officials, particularly Tandag City Barangay Captain Vicente H. Pimentel III, former Surigao del Sur congressman Prospero Pichay Jr. and Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel.
Marcos said the Philippines posted a 5.3-percent increase in its Gross Domestic Product growth in the first half of 2015 following a 5.6 percent GDP growth in the second quarter.
Despite this, the Second Quarter 2015 Social Weather Survey, conducted from June 5-8, 2015, found that 12.7 percent or an estimated 2.8 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months, he said.
“That for me is a very clear indication that such economic gains are not felt at the grassroots level at all,” Marcos said.
A change in the policy of the national government is needed to change the situation, according to Marcos.
One measure, Marcos suggested, is that the LGUs should be given a larger share in the Internal Revenue Allotment so that the gains of economic growth can trickle down faster to people. Marcos told the barangay officials of his efforts to pass a bill to increase the IRA sharing scheme from the current 40-60 percent in favor of the national government to a 50-50 split.
Likewise, Marcos said he believes the IRA share of the LGUs should be based on all the internal revenue collections of the government instead of being based solely on collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The senator backed a petition before the Supreme Court to question the current basis of computing the IRA share of LGUs. If the SC upholds the petition, it would provide an estimated P92 billion annually to the total share of LGUs in the IRA.
Likewise, Marcos reiterated his call to give LGUs more voice with respect to national projects to ensure the proper identification and efficient implementation of projects at the local level.
Marcos said the barangay officials should work to ensure that the next administration would give LGUs the importance that they deserve.
Meanwhile, Marcos reported to the barangay officials that he has sponsored his bill to provide them with retirement benefits, which he hoped would be approved before the 16th Congress adjourns.
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