If not BBL, what?
The Mamasapano tragedy practically blinded the country with rage. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was deemed collateral damage for the death of 44 Special Action Forces troops. Media and some legislators milked and spun the last of vestiges of the tragedy to thwart the peace process. Even now, it’s still held hostage by the incident.
Wading through 122 pages of the BBL draft is no joke. Even the senator campaigning against it confessed to not having read it in its entirety. As critical as some lawmakers are about BBL, they seem stumped and tongue-tied when asked what their “better” solution would be. The fact is, a framework for peace must be in place before harmony and development can happen.
There are those who are riding on Mamasapano and other consequent issues to push their personal agenda. They are hoping that by taking what seems to be the populist sentiment, their standing in the coming elections would be bolstered. So why should their pronouncements be taken seriously? These are precisely the characters that should be banished from our 2016 ballots.
In the last Pulse survey, 88% claimed to be aware of the BBL. This was in response to the question, have you heard, read or seen anything about BBL? It doesn't mean they actually read the proposed law. More likely, they were merely mimicking the opinions of their favorite radio commentators or the ubiquitous anti-BBL politicians who mouth off in all available TV programs. After all, it is free media and a prelude to 2016.
Of those who claimed to be aware of BBL, only 21% agreed with BBL, 44% disagreed and 27% were undecided as of March 2015. The largest number of objectors came from Mindanao (62%), followed by NCR (53%) Visayas (43%) and Balance Luzon (32%).
There was an insidious attempt to fan the anti-Moro sentiment. The foulest joke, “A good Moro is a dead Moro” was revived with a delighted smirk. Politicians claimed Moros were treacherous and MILF should not be trusted. A big issue was made about Mohagner Iqbal being a nom de guerre. These diatribes coming from the mouths of trapos was the ultimate irony. I mean, just look who’s talking?
Citizens' Peace Council
The Citizens' Peace Council was composed of five convenors who were known for their spotless records, expertise and credibility in their chosen fields. They headed four clusters that tackled BBL’s main areas of contention.
These were Chief Justice Hilario Davide for constitutionality; Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala for economy and patrimony; former ambassador Howard Dee and Muslim youth leader Bai Rohaniza Sumndad Usman for social justice and human development; and Cardinal Chito Tagle, represented by Bishop Ambo David and Father Joel Tabora.
The 4th cluster on peace and order and human security was headed by co-convenors Dean Edilberto de Jesus and General Alexander Aguirre. Each cluster invited their own resource persons and experts composed of deans of various law schools, Mindanao businessmen, civil society organizations, religious, academe and indigenous peoples. In all, about 136 people participated in the Peace Council.
Despite attempts by some in media to paint them as yellow puppets – the collective wisdom, clarity of thinking, compassion and diligence shown by the august body was inspirational. Invested columnists were unbelievable for their thick-faced allegation that these pillars of integrity are rubber stamps of President Aqunio – incapable of independent evaluation.
In the intensive three weeks that the four clusters examined, deliberated, researched and pored over all the available studies, they declared that BBL is “overwhelmingly” compliant with the Constitution. It is also the most viable instrument for lasting peace.
Only one stipulation was recommended for deletion: Sec. 3 (e), Art. XV that provides for the opt-in of contiguous areas where there is a resolution from the local government unit or a petition of at least 10% of the registered voters in the geographical area for their inclusion, and majority of the registered voters vote for their area’s inclusion in a plebiscite called for that purpose.
Other contentious issues simply needed clarification, definition or rewording:
• The BBL does not make the Bangsamoro Government a state. The provisions on “people,” “territory,” and “self-determination” do not imply the creation of a separate state, but are consistent with the constitutionally mandated creation of autonomous regions.
• The inter-governmental relation between the National Government and the Bangsamoro Government is consistent with the allocation of powers mandated by the Constitution. The defined relationship between the National Government and the Bangsamoro Government embodies the essence of genuine autonomy, based on principles of subsidiarity and solidarity.
• The Supreme Court and the constitutional bodies continue to maintain the powers that are given them under the Constitution. There is neither substitution nor diminution of powers intended or effected by the creation of the Bangsamoro human rights, auditing, civil service, and electoral offices.
Some provisions on economy and human security also need a more detailed explanation, based on the recommendation.
• The Bangsamoro block grant that has been speculated as pork barrel funds supposedly worth P75B, only amounts to about P10.5 billion, as the rest is already part of the existing annual appropriations to the ARMM. The grant was warranted to help the Bangsamoro catch up with the rest of the country as it has been lagging behind as far as human development is concerned.
• The Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Region is the head of the Bangsamoro Police Board (BPB), but it is subordinate to the National Police Commission. It should be clearly worded that the Bangsamoro military command will be supervised by the Armed Forces chief of staff.
• Other noteworthy counsels included the provision of reserved seats in the Bangsamoro Parliament for non-Moro indigenous people, women and youth. The recognition of the peace efforts of the past and peace education for the future were also recommended.
It is prudent to take a stand only after knowing all the facts. Let us resolve never to open our mouths or rant in social media without doing our homework. We could be spreading wrong information and outright lies. We could even be exposing our own fears and prejudices.
The way it stands, if we are truly for peace, we must support the best chance for peace. – Rappler.com