By : Maron Ramos-Araneta | Manila Standard Today
AFTER the conduct of 14 public hearings among stakeholders, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Wednesday rejected the Malacanang-drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law, saying its infirmities and flaws would only lead to more bloodshed instead of achieving its goal of bringing lasting peace in Mindanao.
“Mr. President, I repeat: I am for peace. I share our people’s thirst for peace. But there are many bad provisions enshrined in the BBL and if we are to remove each one of them, any move to fix it would not result to the return of the former BBL image,” said Marcos said.
While Senate Bill No. 2408 was filed and subsequently referred last September to the committee on local government which he chaired, Marcos said they endeavored to scrutinize the proposal by conducting several hearings on the BBL.
“We sought the opinions, sentiments, concerns and propositions of the different sectors of society. Discussions of the measure of the grassroots level triggered passionate debates and scholarly discourses between national and local officials, members of the academe, concerned sectors and other stakeholders. We also sought the opinions of legal experts who shared their scholarly analyses on the constitutionality of several provisions of the bill,” said Marcos.
The BBL is supposed to be an instrument of peace, and Marcos said he shares its objective, but for peace to be achieved, BBL must be inclusive. All the stakeholders must be consulted, their views heard, their concerns addressed.
“More importantly, it must conform to the letter and spirit of the law of the land. No ifs, ands, or buts,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said the BBL in its present form and substance will not bring us any closer to peace. Instead, he said it will lead us to perdition and armed conflict will ensure.
He warned that blood will be shed and when blood is shed, it will not distinguish between right and wrong, between young and old, neither between men and women, nor soldiers or rebels, combatants and civilians, rich, poor, Muslims, Christians.
After a series of meetings with the stakeholders, Marcos said it became obvious to me that no substantive consultations had been held with them prior to or during the negotiations.
He criticized the Office of the Presidential Assistant on peace Process (OPAPP) for totally ignoring major stakeholders the Sultanate of Sulu, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Lumads, the Indigenous People, the Christians, the local government units and businesses were abandoned, removed from the negotiating process.
Speaking on the constitutionality of the BBL, Marcos noted what it aspires to create is not within the Framework of the Constitution because the powers enjoyed by the Bangsamoro government are violative of several provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
“The granting of these exclusive powers to the Bangsamoro government implies that the central government recognizes another, and more supreme, authority within the State an anomaly which is not authorized by the Constitution,” he said.
“The BBL seeks to establish limitations to the powers of Congress. Congress will be entitled to reserved powers, but the Bangsamoro would be excluded from the laws passed by Congress with respect to autonomous regions. The Bangsamoro Parliament would become not subordinate, but equal to, our Congress,” he emphasized.
Furthermore, he said BBL has no power to create the Bangsamoro territory which proceeds from the view that although Bangsamoro is under Philippine jurisdiction, it can be molded into a separate territory of the Philippines.
Marcos had earlier vowed to resist any effort to railroad the approval of BBL as he also bucked the June 11 deadline the Palace set for its passage.
“We will not allowed ourselves to be carried by emotions and politics. I will not allowed that BBL be railroaded in my committee. It is complex enough as it is. Why rush it?” Marcos said.
He said the BBL will not be able to achieve this goal unless all the stakeholders are heard and their concerns addressed and, more importantly, that the proposed law conform to the letters and spirit of our constitution.
The senator noted too that based on the committee report of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendment and Revision of Codes, the draft BBL is riddled with constitutional infirmities.
Citing the report, Marcos said the BBL aspires to create a part-sovereign state that enjoys sovereignty within the Bangsamoro territory and within the territory of the State, or to create a state within a state.
Marcos said several provisions of BBL ran counter to the constitution:
* BBL provides for a parliamentary form of government within a presidential form of government within a presidential form of government. There is no constitutional basis for this effort to change the form of government.
*BBL seeks to impose limitations to the power of Congress. Congress will be entitled to reserved powers, but the Bangsamoro would be excluded from the laws passed by Congress with respect to autonomous regions. The Bangsamoro Parliament would be equal, not subordinate, to our Congress.
*Exclusive powers given to Bangsamoro will inevitably diminish or reduce the comprehensive sovereign authority of the Republic over the so-called Bangsamoro territory, and
*BBL has no power to create “Bangsamoro territory” which proceeds from the view that although Bangsamoro is under Philippine jurisdiction, it can be molded into a separate territory of the Philippines.
Marcos also paid tribute to the Fallen 44, the Special Action Force commandos who died in January this year during an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front troops after a successful operation against Indonesian terrorist Marwan---an incident that triggered intense public attention to the BBL.
“I salute you for your bravery and patriotism. Your heroism will not be forgotten. You will remain in the collective memory of a grateful people. Your sacrifice will continue to inspire us,” Marcos said, even as he vowed to pursue the justice they and their loved ones deserve.
In promising to continue his search for peace, Marcos said he would have helped demonstrate that your supreme sacrifice did not go to waste and that you have not died in vain.