Nine bills enter first reading in the Bangsamoro Parliament
October 17, 2022

COTABATO CITY— Nine legislative measures were filed and refiled by several Bangsamoro legislators to improve the lives of Bangsamoro workers and medical students, combat malnutrition and hunger, and standardize the distribution of halal food.

Among the proposed legislation are the Bangsamoro Medical Scholarship Act of 2022; Bangsamoro Government Center 2024; Bangsamoro Medical School Act of 2023; Bangsamoro Nutrition Act of 2022; Bangsamoro Public Service Eligibility Equivalency Act; Bangsamoro Tripartism and Social Dialogue Act; Bangsamoro Magna Carta for Workers in the Informal Economy; Bangsamoro Labor and Employment Code of 2022; and Bangsamoro Halal Food Act of 2022.

MP Romeo Sema, a labor rights advocate, introduced four bills, including Parliament Bill Nos. 56, 57, 58, and 59.

According to Sema, various sectors and local government units in BARMM’s five provinces and two cities participated in extensive consultations to help draft PB No. 59, also known as the Bangsamoro Labor and Employment Code of 2022.

“The proposed BLEC emphasizes the development of human capital, enhanced and expanded labor and social protection coverage not only to regular workers but includes the differently-abled persons, elderly workers, non-plantilla workers in the public sector, and informal sector workers, among others,” Sema said.

PB No. 56, also known as the Bangsamoro Public Service Eligibility Equivalency Act, grants civil service eligibility and permanent appointment to all Bangsamoro government employees who have completed at least three years of satisfactory government service under casual and contractual, job order, contract of service, memorandum of agreement, memorandum of understanding, and similar contracts.

Sema also filed PB No. 57, the Bangsamoro Tripartism and Social Dialogue Act, which requires organizations representing both employers and employees to participate in the Bangsamoro Government’s policymaking, consultation, and decision-making processes.

The proposed bill shall apply to all private businesses in the BARMM and Bangsamoro civil service, including government-owned or controlled corporations, state and local universities and colleges, and local government units.

The Bangsamoro Magna Carta for Workers in the Informal Economy (PB No. 58) establishes a framework for workers to be legally recognized, included in, and eventually transition to the formal economy.

It seeks to promote, protect, and fulfill the right of all Bangsamoro workers in the informal economy to decent work, including but not limited to: adequate earnings and productive work; reasonable working time; equal opportunity and treatment in employment; a safe work environment; access to social protection; self-organization and representation in policy making and consultations; the right to stability and security in and around the workplace; the right to education, lifelong learning, and skills development; among others.

MP Susana Anayatin and several lawmakers refiled medical bills that would address the issue of the lack of medical schools and doctors in the region.

Parliament Bill No. 53, or the Bangsamoro Medical School Act of 2023, aims to provide the Bangsamoro young people with highly accessible, affordable, comprehensive, and rewarding medical education.

The institution shall offer a Doctor of Medicine degree and other related academic programs in order to give advanced instruction and professional training in scientific, technological, and special teaching in the field of medicine.

This will primarily benefit Bangsamoro young people and may extend its services in addition to other existing medical schools.

The Bangsamoro Medical Scholarship Act of 2022 seeks to address the shortage of doctors and provide the best healthcare service to the people of the BARMM by producing more competent, committed, and community-oriented medical doctors.

Children and dependents of BARMM employees, barangay health workers, and families of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front are eligible to apply for a five-year medical scholarship through the Ministry of Health. The program is also open to health professionals working in government health offices and graduates of premedical or related courses residing in the region who are not enjoying any scholarships.

Tuition, miscellaneous fees, laboratory fees, student fund, books, uniforms, basic equipment, monthly lodging, living subsidy, transportation, school supplies, miscellaneous allowance, fees for licensure review and examination, and PhilHealth insurance will all be covered for a Bangsamoro medical scholar under the proposed measure.

Anayatin also filed PB No. 52, which will establish a Bangsamoro Government Center in another place within Cotabato City.

Under the proposed bill, the BGC will be separated from the commercial, financial, and schools within the area of Governor Gutierrez Avenue to create opportunities for progress and spur development in the other portion of the city while reducing traffic congestion within its current location.

Two bills, the Bangsamoro Nutrition Act of 2022 and the Bangsamoro Halal Food Act of 2022, were introduced in the plenary by MPs Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr. and Amilbahar Mawallil.

In order to combat hunger and malnutrition in the region, the Bangsamoro government is required by PB No. 55 to establish a mechanism for facilitating collaboration and cooperation among various agencies, sectors, and stakeholders.

This shall be carried out through policies, plans, monitoring, and programs that are responsive to the needs of their constituents by the Bangsamoro Nutrition Council.

The promotion, packaging, labeling, display, sale, preparation, and serving of halal food are all subject to rules laid down in PB No. 60, also known as the Bangsamoro Halal Food Act of 2022.

The proposed legislation prohibits making any claims, whether verbal or written, that could lead a reasonable person to believe that a non-halal food or food product is halal. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)

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