By Leila B. Salaverria | Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE IRONY is not lost on Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) conferred on Marcos an award for being a “great protector” of the 1987 Constitution, informally referred to as the “Cory Constitution.”
The Constitution was drafted under the watch of the late President Corazon Aquino, who rose to power in 1986 after the senator’s father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was ousted in the Edsa People Power Revolution.
Marcos chairs the Senate local government committee, which is handling deliberations on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a product of the historic peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He has been critical of the proposed law.
Philconsa, headed by Marcos’ first cousin Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, is one of the petitioners against the government’s Comprehensive Agree- ment on the Bangsamoro and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF.
“When Justice [Manuel] Lazaro told me that I would be receiving an award for being ‘the great defender of the Constitution’ I found this quite ironic,” Marcos said in his speech at a Philconsa meeting at the Manila Hotel on Tuesday night.
First, he noted that he was not a lawyer and being recognized as protector of the Constitution was a “flattering honor.”
He then went on to cite history. “Second, the greater irony is that it is Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who has become the ‘great defender’ of the Cory Constitution! I can almost hear my father looking down upon these proceedings, scratching his head and asking, ‘How did that happen?’” he said.
Marcos, in his speech, praised the petition of Philconsa, whose president is Romualdez, and at the same time continued his criticism of the draft BBL.
“Your initiative, joined by others, is an inestimable service to the nation, because on these agreements rest the administration’s ambitious enterprise of creating a new Bangsamoro political entity or substate. With a favorable resolution from the high court, I see the possibility of our society vaulting over the divisions over this issue,” he said.
According to him, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the draft BBL do not represent out-of-the-box thinking on the part of the Aquino administration.
“They are in the vacuum of outer space. This is the reason why controversy hounds the Bangsamoro experiment everywhere it turns, and why it finds scant support and little traction in Congress and in public opinion across the nation,” he said.
Marcos also said that restraining the approval of the original draft BBL would not be enough. The best approach is a “full-scale modernization program for all of Mindanao—politically, economically, socially and culturally,” he said.
Substitute draft BBL
The government could come up with an accelerated development plan for Mindanao, which he said could be the Marshall Plan for Mindanao.
He said he planned to include this modernization plan in the substitute draft BBL he would propose, or in an amendment to the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“I will request the support of both Houses of Congress to join me in sponsoring this program of transformation,” he said.
The modernization plan should include a pacification and law enforcement program to halt insurgencies; modernization of infrastructure, including power supply and road networks; feasibility study for a railway system; modernization of the civil service; and provision of modern public services.
Marcos also said the draft BBL was “unbelievable for the sheer extravagance of the concessions government makes to the MILF.”
He cited provisions that gave the proposed Bangsamoro region its own security force, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, Civil Service Commission, fiscal and monetary policymakers, and trial courts.
The draft law would also allow instances when the Bangsamoro Parliament could amend or repudiate laws passed by Congress, he said.
He once more railed against the government panel’s supposed failure to consult all stakeholders to be affected by the proposed BBL, calling it a “grievous oversight.”
But many sectors believe that the BBL, which will create a region to replace the ARMM, is one of the steps toward achieving peace in Mindanao.