BBL’s fate hangs due to promises Palace gave MILF that Malacañang can’t deliver

Bongbong Marcos Pilconsa speech

Malacañang’s unrealistic and improbable promises to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are the reasons why the Bangsamoro Basic Law is being challenged in Congress and the Supreme Court, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said today.

Addressing the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) at the Manila Hotel, Marcos lambasted the President for his ‘’arrogation of powers’’, especially in his policies and actions on Mindanao.

Marcos, Chairman of the Committee on Local Government deliberating on the BBL, was Philconsa’s guest of honor and speaker in their meeting where the group also awarded the senator as “The Great Protector of the Constitution”.

Philconsa has asked the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) between the MILF and the Philippine government, which serve as the basis of BBL.

Among others, Philconsa argued that peace panel has no power to commit to provisions in the agreements that would cause amendments to the constitution and existing laws.

“The proposed BBL is unbelievable for the sheer extravagance of the concessions the government makes to the MILF,” Marcos said.

He noted that as drafted, the BBL confers to the Bangsamoro entity powers normally reserved for the national government such as its own security force, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, and trial courts, which would give the Bangsamoro the features of a state.

Likewise, Marcos said that allowing the Bangsamoro entity to have a parliamentary form of government “betrays a level of carelessness and superficiality that dooms the Bangsamoro project to rejection.”

Aside from the constitutional issues against the BBL, Marcos said the glaring lack of consultation triggered opposition to the BBL.

“In the peace negotiations leading to the FAB and the CAB, the presidential peace adviser and the government peace panel did not consult with all the stakeholders in Mindanao, whose well-being and welfare will be greatly affected by the changes contemplated by the BBL,” Marcos noted.

Marcos said entire communities – Muslims, Lumads and Christians –were stunned when they found out that they were left out of the peace negotiations. He noted that even the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu were completely excluded in the process.

The senator also said it remains a big puzzle why the peace panel summarily lumped together as one community the 13 Filipino-Muslim groups—to be represented and led by the MILF and the Maguindanao group—who are known to be oftentimes in conflict with one another.

These 13 ethno-linguistic Muslim groups are: Iranum, Magindanaon, Maranao, Tao-sug, Samal, Yakan, Jama Mapun, Ka’agan, Kalibugan, Sangil, Molbog, Palawani and Badjao.

Instead of merely pushing for the approval of the draft BBL, Marcos said a better approach toward lasting peace would be to embark on a full-scale modernization program for all of Mindanao.

“Mindanao’s modernization is the vision that I will introduce in my substitute bill for the BBL,” Marcos said. He earlier explained that he is crafting a substitute bill to address the flaws of the draft BBL and improve it.

He said the amount of money that the Aquino administration is prepared to commit to its BBL experiment is enough to design the equivalent of a mini-Marshall plan for Mindanao. On the first year of its operation, the Bangsamoro entity would get an estimated total funding of P75 billion.

“If we combine internal funds with financial assistance from international institutions and foreign countries, we can mobilize funds on a scale that will not fall short of effecting the full transformation of Mindanao into a hive of modernization and productivity for the nation,” Marcos said.

Marcos said such a modernization program should include the following components: pacification campaign, modernization of power and road infrastructure, modernization of civil service, and efficient delivery of basic services.

“With the same can-do spirit that enabled our people to transform Subic Bay and Clark air base into havens of rapid modernization and development, we can effect a similar and even bigger transformation in Mindanao,” Marcos said.

Marcos urged the Palace and Congress, along with the public, to join hands for the passage of a modernization and development act for Mindanao.

“Let that day come to pass. Let the proposed decommissioning of weapons point in this direction of constructive building. Let us allow the peacemakers to take over from the fighters. Then let us allow the builders to come and put up the structures of the new and modern Mindanao, where Muslim, Christian and Lumad can all prosper,” Marcos said.

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