Greater Understanding of the BBL: Speech at Marikina Polytechnic College

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Maraming maraming salamat sa ating butihing pangulo ng Marikina Poytechnic College (MPC), Engr. Henry Lañada,

Nais ko ring batiin ang ating bise-mayor, Vice Mayor Fabian Cadiz,

Andito rin ang ating kaibigan, Councilor Mario de Leon,

The Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Virginia Bacay, isa sa ating mga kasamahan na mashado ding honest.

The Director of Student Affairs, Ms. Parasa Miranda,

At ang ating Pangulo ng Student Council, Mr. Julius Tesalona,

Mukang ang Student Council President natin may sariling dalang audience.

To the Board of Trustees of Marikina Polytechnic College, who are present here today,

Our College officials, non-teaching staff and personnel and employees of the College,

To the students of course of Marikina Polytechnic College, in attendance this morning,

Other guests and friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!Maraming maraming salamat sa mainit na salubong na ibinigay niyo sa akin, sa aking pagdating dito sa MPC.

Alam ninyo, malaking bagay sa akin bilang inyong halal na lingkod-bayan ang makapiling ang ating mga kabataan, lalo na ang mga mag-aaral ng ating mga kolehiyo at unibersidad, upang maibahagi sa inyo ang aming mga tinatalakay sa Senado ukol sa ilan sa mga mahahalagang isyu ng ating bansa.

Pinasasalamatan ko ang buong Marikina Polytechnic College family dahil sa inyong interes at pagiging bukas-loob sa pagtalakay sa Bangsamoro Basic Law o ang tinatawag ngayong “BBL”. Sadyang napakahalaga kasi ng panukalang-batas na ito, dahil sa kanyang magiging epekto hindi lamang sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim sa Muslim Mindanao, kundi pati na rin sa buong bansa.

Pero huwag kayo sanang kabahan sa aking pagdalo dito. Sinisiguro ko na walang anumang karagdagang pagsusulit na kaakibat ang inyong pagdalo sa ating talakayan sa umagang ito. Alam ko naman katatapos lamang ninyo ng midterm exams, at baka pagod pa ang inyong mga pag-iisip dahilan ng puspusang pag-aaral at puro kalyo na ang inyong mga daliri sa kakasagot ng mga katanungan sa inyong examination! Ayoko ko namang dumagdag pa sa stress ninyong na dinadaanan dito sa eskuwelahan; iyan ay hindi ko trabaho iyonn, trabaho iyon ng mg propesor ninyo—lalo na ‘yung mga propesor alam natin na “terror”! mukang mayroon talaga kayong tinutukoy, pag napapagusapan ang terror.

Anyway, as diligent college students, I believe that you are the mature and sharp group, not to mention the most receptive, to gain some valuable lessons and insights upon this important public issue, ranging from our constitutional system and our form of government, to the interplay of the branches of government and the political forces involved in this proposed legislation and proposed shift in our government policy.

You may have learned in the news that the modified version or the Substitute Bill to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is now being deliberated in Congress. Sa katunayan, anim (6) na Senador na ang tumayo upang ako ay tanungin at usisain sa bagong BBL na aking isinumite sa kanila. At sampu (10) pa ang nakapila! Sa hirap at lalim ng mga katanungan ng aking mga kasamahan, pakiramdam ko tuloy na ako ay isang estudyanteng muli katulad ninyo, na kailangang i-defend mabuti ang aking thesis para makapasa at maka-graduate!

Pero unang-una, pag usapan natin, ano ba talaga itong BBL?

I hope that you are all aware of a basic Philippine constitutional principle that certain parts of Mindanao are declared to be on a different political status in relation to the national government, and also in comparison with other local government units, say, for example, the City of Marikina.

This specific area in Muslim Mindanao has been recognized under Article 10 of the Constitution as an “AUTONOMOUS REGION”, alongside the Cordillera Region. In essence, they are a group of local government units, which share a “common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage”. Ibig sabihin, may “KASARINLAN” sila. But note, however, that the concept of “autonomy” is essentially and substantially different from “independence”, malaking bagay iyan where differences come up over and over again in this discussion. So while they may be viewed as “autonomous”, they are not “independent” from the Philippines.

Right now, this certain part of Muslim Mindanao is called by the legal description of “the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao”, or simply yung madalas ninyo sigurong marinig, yung “ARMM”. The grant of their autonomy has been enfleshed in a law enacted by Congress. We had RA 6734 in 1989, and then RA 9054 in 2001.

Para sa inyong kaalaman, ang Cordillera Region, wala pa. Despite two attempts to operationalize its autonomy in 1990 and again in 1998, parehong hindi sumang-ayon ang mga tao sa mga plebisito noon. Hindi natin nakamit ang kanilang matamis na “OO” ng taumbayan.

Sa Muslim Mindanao naman, ikatlong pagkakataon na ito na ang BBL ay babalik balikan at aayusin natin na ang kasarinlan ng rehiyon na ito.

To put in proper perspective, BBL we as an entire nation are now trying to renegotiate through BBL this grant of autonomy to the ARMM. During the previous legislations, it was the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that stood as the negotiator for the ARMM. Ngayon naman, ang Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ang kausap ng ating pamahalaan. At sa halip na ARMM ang kanilang gustong itawag sa kanilang autonomous region, ang tawag ngayon ay “BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION.”

In doing all these, we must governed and guided by the framework of our constitutional democracy. Hence, we have to follow the rules and precepts ordained by our Constitution.

To recall what you have learned in your Political Science, the form of government that is ordained and authorized under our 1987 Constitution is a so-called unitary, presidential, and republican form of government. On the national level, we have the executive department; we have the legislative and the judicial department, all the independent constitutional bodies.

On the local level, we have what are called the “territorial and political subdivisions” of our country, or our local government units, again a most popular example is the City of Marikina. These LGUs also enjoy local autonomy, but not to the degree allowed for the ARMM and the Cordilleras. Notwithstanding the grant of autonomy under the law, the President still has the power of general supervision over both the LGUs and the autonomous regions.

Dahil sila pa ay bahagi ng Republika ng Pilipinas. Kaya’t kahit Autonomous Region na sila, sumasa-ilalim parin sa ating pangulo, sumasa-ilalim parin sa taing National Government. Because of the primacy of our Constitution, the BBL, both in its SUBSTANCE and in the PROCEDURE for its enactment, must follow certain basic principles of the Constitution, and let me enumerate those basic principles of the Constitution.

1) The Agreements between the MILF and “Government of the Philippines” (GPH) does not bind the entire Philippine Government.

Kung maaalala ninyo, meron nang mga naging kasunduan sa pagitan ng MILF at tsaka ng GPH. Sa katunayan, ito ang nagbunsod ng tinaguriang “original draft” na BBL. But we have to understand, however, that the agreements do not bind the Congress. Neither do they bind the Supreme Court, much less the entire country. Even if you see the acronym “GPH”, giving the impression that it covers the entire Philippine government, you must not be misled and should rather remember that it only covers and binds the Executive Department, the President or Malacañang only. Anyway, it is our President who claimed that the ARMM was a “failed experiment”, and this is the reason that was given kung bakit natin ginagawa lahat ito. Bakit importante, bakit natin lahat pag usapan ang commitment ng ating pamahalaan?

Dahil marami tayong naririnig na statement, lalo na galing sa MILF, na sinasabi na mayroon na silang usapan. Mayroon na silang usapan sa ating pamahalaan, nag pirmahan na daw sila ng pangulo. Ibig sabihin, ang buong gobyerno dapat sumunod na.

Well, this is a mistaken idea, dahil this only applies to international Treaties. Ang pangulo ang siyang namamahala ng ating tinatawa na, foreign policy. At kung makipag pirmahan ang ating pangulo sa isang pangulo ulit o head of state ng ibang bansa, talagang iyan ay isang international treaty na kung kasama lahat ng buong Pilipinas, at pumirma ang ating pangulo, ngunit ito ay sa international treaty sa gitna ng tinatawag na sovereign nation, dalawang bansa. That is why, when we sa foreign policy is acted by the president, once the president commits the entire republic to an agreement, that agreement applies to everyone in the government, as bodies.

Ngayon, ang problema dito sa sitwasyon sa MILF, hindi sila bansa, hindi sila sovereign nation. Kaya’t hindi ito international treaty, ito lamang ay isang peace agreement sa gitna ng government ng Philippines at ng MILF, isang dependent na grupo.

Ngayon, kung ganoon ang sitwasyon ibig sabihin kailangan parin para ma-implementa ang ating peace agreement ay kailangan na magkaroon ng isang batas para masasa-batas na ito ay ginagawa, ipinapaliwanag at ginagawa yung bagong gobyerno, define the territory, alam ang ibat-ibang functions ng kanilang bagong pamahalaan. That is the subject of this BBL. Ito na yung BBL to authorizationalize the peace agreement.

Ngunit, ang importanteng punto dito, hindi ito international agreement kaya’t kailangan dumaan sa Kongreso at kailangan parin dumaan sa judiciary kung sakali man.

2) Another point that we must follow on the Constitution. Congress, through the power of lawmaking, not only has the authority to enact the MILF-GPH original draft of the BBL, but also the power to change its terms and to make it faithful and amenable to the provisions of the Constitution and to ensure the balanced and inclusive development of our country and of the people.

In school, we have all learned that under our Constitution, Congress is the lawmaking body, not the President. Ibig sabihin, kailangan muna talagang dumaan sa Kongreso itong BBL, itong draft Basic Law, bago ito maging ganap na batas—anuman ang nilalaman ng orihinal na BBL, at anuman ang napagkasunduan ng GPH at ng MILF.

Pero ang nagging problema—ANG MALAKING PROBLEMA—na lumabas sa aming mga naging pagdinig sa Senado at marami pa sa probisyon ng BBL ay labag sa Saligang Batas. Many in the provision on the draft BBL as given to us by the president, were found to be unconstitutional.

Kaya ang aking ginawa ay minabuti kong humingi ng isang pauna at pampaganang lecture o sermon mula sa aming dalubhasa sa Senado sa Saligang Batas, si Senador Miriam Santiago. Ang ginawa ni Senador Miriam ay inimbitahan niya ang mga magagaling at matitinik na mga utak sa Saligang Batas na pag-aralan ang draft BBL, at kung ito nga ay naaayon sa ating Saligang Batas.

Sa kasawiang-palad, ipinagtibay ng Report ni Senador Miriam ang aming mga naunang hinala: LABAG TALAGA SA KONSTITUSYON ANG DRAFT BBL!

‘Ika nga ng sikat na sikat na libro niya: “STUPID IS FOREVER”!

Ang gusto raw di-umano ng BBL ay gawing isang “state within a state” o isang sovereign state ang tinaguriang “Bangsamoro Autonomous Region”. It has all the elements of a State under the Montevideo Convention, number; 1) Permanent population; 2) A defined territory; and 3) Capacity to enter into relations with other States.

So I had to make sure that the Bangsamoro proposal would not turn the ARMM into a “state a state”. The national and territorial integrity of the Philippines should be preserved and shoul be protected. The Bangsamoro proposal should not contain provisions leading to opportunities for secession or breaking away. The matter of defense, security, peace and order in the Bangsamoro Region should always remain with the national government.

I also had to make sure that provisions leading to normalcy and more stable peace and order in the area were contained in my substitute bill. I fully agree that peace and development in Muslim Mindanao are as much the primary objectives of the BBL, as the grant of enhanced autonomy to the region. Hence, we included provisions on the so-called “normalization of communities” and most importantly the “decommissioning of forces”.

Ibig sabihin nito, kapalit at kasabay dapat ng mas malawak na autonomiya o kasarinlan, ay meron dapat kaakibat na mas taos-pusong pagtigil sa pakikipaglaban sa gobyerno, pagbababa ng kanilang mga armas at paglalansag ng mga armadong grupo.

We have to disarm—literally and figuratively—so that this portion of this people who are so used to or so steeped in a culture of arms-bearing, fighting and killing. The enactment of the BBL is also a time for our brothers and sisters to lay down arms, and replace them with plows, tools of trade, books, computers, and other wholesome and more potent materials of creation—and not of destruction—and other building blocks of social development and progress.

In fact, these were some of the valuable lessons we have learned from the Mamasapano massacre in January of this year. We were able to appreciate the importance of achieving lasting PEACE in Mindanao. We were taught about the virtue of TRUST. Remember that the MILF was involved in this deadly skirmish—the very same group, the very same organization that our government had been exclusively talking to and negotiating with the past several years about (quite ironically) the quest for a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

It is just very unfortunate that it had to take the lives of 44 brave policemen—all killed in the line of duty fighting for the cause of peace and against global terrorism—for us to be reminded of these important goals. But at the very least, we were greatly comforted by the thought that our Fallen 44 had given their lives not only for the single valiant purpose of bringing fugitives to justice, but for more important and transcendental reasons: that of revealing imperfections and weaknesses in the peace process in Muslim Mindanao.

That is why on my sponsorship speech for the substitute bill that I filed, I deemed it prudent and made it a point to pay tribute to the memory of our Fallen 44. May they forever be remembered by our truly grateful nation.

The third item featured on the constitution that must also remembered is;

3) The Supreme Court’s power of judicial review and authority to declare a law unconstitutional

The Supreme Court has the power to judge whether or not a law, any law, not only BBL, not only the Substitute Bill, but any law. Even it’s a challenged on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upon studying that law and make a judgment as to whether or not it’s consistent with the constitution or not. That is the power of the Supreme court

Siyempre, kailangan naming pag-aralang mabuti sa Kongreso ang BBL na ito, hanggang sa kanyang pinakamaliit na detalye at mga nakatagong epekto. Hindi pwedeng mag-“bara-bara” ang pasok natin dito. Hindi pwedeng “bahala-na-si-Batman” ang ganyag klaseng mentalidad. Mas lalong hindi pwedeng “rak-en-rol-to-the-world!” lamang ang aming gagawin!

Kasi, alam naman natin na nandyan ang Supreme Court sa may Manila siyang nakabantay at nakaabang sa ilalabas na batas ng Kongreso, at naghihintay sa anumang magiging reklamo ng kahit sinong mamamayan na ang BBL ay labag sa ating Konstitusyon.

If we in Congress don’t do our job properly, all the painstaking work that is gone before would just end up being another sumptuous target of a petition by a concerned and well-meaning Filipino taxpayer for certiorari and prohibition with the Supreme Court on the ground of unconstitutionality!

If the BBL that were to emanate from Congress and the version we are trying to approve is
eventually stricken down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, then what happens? Would it mean that it is the end of the road for the proponents?

If the proponents are really bent on passing the BBL in the exact shape and form as drafted by the Palace and the MILF, then there would be no other legal recourse but to conduct a constituent assembly to study whether or not should have constitutional amendments. This essentially burns down to having the rest of the Philippines adjust its system so that it can go inside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

The entire Philippines will change its constitution just to accommodate the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Lagi kong naiisip na… which always comes to mind to think about this idea of the constitution being amended just to accommodate one government, one Local Government and that phrase is, it sounds to me…

As of this time, we are in the stages of interpellations and amendments of the substitute BBL, ano yung nangyayari sa substitute BBL. Ang ginawa ko ay noong nakuha ko at pinag aralan namin, nagkaroon kami ng hearing, pinag aralan namin ang laman ng draft BBL, pinag usapan namin ng consultant natin, mga expert hindi lamang sa batas, kung hindi sa negosyo, kung hindi tungkol sa mga IPs, tungkol sa mga Sultanates, tungkol sa kasaysayan ng Muslim Mindanao. At sa nakuha nating impormasyon, at sa mga nakuha nating in-put galing sa ibat-ibang sector dito sa Muslim Mindanao ay nakita natin kung ano ang mga kailangang gawin para unang-una; maging constitutional, maging consistent sa constitution natin, pangalawa, na maging maliwanag an gating magiging batas, at pangatlo, na maging inclusive, ibig sabihin lahat ng mga apektado na tinatawag na stake holders ay kinausap at kinonsulta. Dahil ang nagging problema sa proseso na ginawa ng ating pamahalaan ay walang kinausap na iba kung hindi MILF. Kaya’y lahat ng makikita ninyo sa draft BBL ay para sa MILF lang ‘yan, wala sa sa MNLF, wala sa Kristiyano, wala para sa IPs, wala para sa mga Sultan, lahat iyan ay isinang tabi at hindi kinausap. Kaya sabi namin, may pag kukulang itong draft BBL. Sa lahat n gaming natutunan at sa delibirasyon ng aming Committee, ginawa namin lahat ng amendment na sa palagay namin kailangan gawin sa draft BBL, at ito ang na-file ko sa Senado, ito ang tinatawag na Substitute Bill, kapalit ng draft BBL.

Kaya doon sa amin, doon sa House of Representatives at tsaka sa Senado, hindi na napag uusapan ang BBL, wala na yung BBL, dahil wala talang pag asa pumasa sa House of Representatives, walang pag asang pumasa sa Senado.

Kaya’t ang ginawa namin, itong Substitute Bill ang tawag namin ngayon diyan is, the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region or BLBAR. Iyan ang tinatalakay ngayon, ‘yan ang aming ginagawa.

So at this point, in our Legislative process, we are in the stages of interpolation and amendments of the Substitute BBL Bill in the Congress. We do this to further refine and improve the BLBAR, before it finally brought to the floor for voting and passage.

Presidential approval is to be expected in all probability, since he is the president who is behind the proposal. But even so, after the President signs the law into a Republic Act, the law shall ultimately be laid down before the affected people of Muslim Mindanao for their ratification at a plebiscite wherein all of the incumbents of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will answer the question­-

“DO YOU APPROVE OF THE BASIC LAW FOR BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION?”

These are the peaceful, unifying, and constitutional ways of doing it. In the name of peace, let all these be done.

Hindi tayo papaya na mamadali, hindi tayo papaya na mag shortcut, we will not allowed to be railroaded, Not with threats of violence. Not with threats of war.

I have worked hard and sacrifice some for this legislation to be on stage. Just a few weeks ago, we found, nalaman namin na mayroon sigurong ayaw doon sa ginagawa namin ay pina putukan ang aming opisina doon sa Roxas Blvd. at nakahanap ng butas ng bala, but sa tagal ko naman sa trabahong ito, nasanay na ako sa ganyang klaseng pangyayari at hindi naman tayo natataranta, hindi tayo natatakot. I am not rattled, I am not shakened. Ganoon man kahirap, tuloy-tuloy parin ang trabaho na ito.

I will do everything to make sure that all the hard work will not be put waste especially on the mere whims and caprices of unseen forces working and weaving their way behind the background.

Your humble public servant assures our youth and our posterity that as an elected representative of the Filipino people, entrusted with the life and the future of our nation, I will continue the valiant struggles of our patriots by ensuring that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country are kept intact and respected by all, and our people united by a common aspiration for genuine and lasting peace, order, justice and development not only in Mindanao but in our entire country as well.

Makakaasa kayong lahat sa aking pangako na ako, mga mahal na mag-aaral, hindi natin pababayan ito, at hindi tayo matatakot basta’t alam natin na tama an gating ginagawa.

I hope that in this short exchange we tackled today you are able to pick up important lessons about our topic this morning, because of its sheer importance to our life as a nation, and to our lives as a Filipino people, especially to you—our young people. As the future of our great land, you shall be inheriting the country and the society that we—your progenitors and forbears—are now shaping and molding, and the peace that we are trying to establish in your behalf. What we are doing now is HISTORY IN THE MAKING. And by your active involvement and your insights in the national dialogue, you can also be part of the process of writing this particular chapter of Philippine history.

So, I urge you to be involved in your own ways as youthful, exuberant, dynamic and proactive students. I also humbly ask for your support, your patience and your understanding.

And on that note, let me bring this to an end, my dear students.

Marami na akong nasabi’t nakuwento, gusto kong marinig ang inyong magiging tanong tungkol dito sa subject natin na ito.

Thank you very much for your time and attention.

Mabuhay ang Marikina Polytechnic College!

Mabuhay ang Lungsod ng Marikina!

Maraming maraming salamat at magandang umagang sa inyong lahat!

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