As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government tasked to study and deliberate on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. decided it was necessary to consult as many of the stakeholders as possible.
Today he brought the issues on BBL to the youth when he spoke before students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in their symposium entitled “In the Name of Peace.”
Sen. Bongbong recalled that he had visited various places in Mindanao and talked to major stakeholders like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Moro National Liberation Front, indigenous people, the sultanates and representatives from different sectors of society.
“Then I realized, I haven’t talked to the youth and the students yet. If I don’t do this it will be a major shortcoming because the youth is our country’s future and the principal beneficiary of the peace process,” said Sen. Bongbong.
He explained that in general BBL is part of the effort to bring peace and development in Muslim Mindanao under the context and framework of our constitution.
In recognition that people in certain areas of the country share “common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage” different from the rest of the country Sen. Bongbong said the constitution authorizes the creation of autonomous regions.
Specifically, he said the constitution allowed the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, vested with extensive powers not otherwise enjoyed by ordinary local governments but so far only ARMM had been organized.
In September last year, Marcos said Malacanang presented to Congress the draft BBL, which sought to abolish ARMM and repeal the law that created it, apparently based on an earlier statement of the President that ARRM is a “failed experiment”.
“The problem is---and this is a big problem---it turned out in our hearings in the Senate that many of the provisions of the draft BBL are unconstitutional,” Sen. Bongbong said.
The Senator also said he sought the help of the Senate’s resident constitutional expert, Sen. Miriam Santiago, to conduct hearings on the constitutionality of the draft BBL.
“Unfortunately, Senator Miriam’s report confirmed our initial suspicion that BBL really runs counter to the constitution,” he said.
Citing the report, Marcos said what BBL aims to create a “part-sovereign” or “sub-state” called Bangsamoro, with elements of a state under the Montevideo Convention, namely: 1) Permanent population; 2) Defined territory; and 3) Capacity to enter into relations with other States.
If Congress were to pass the draft BBL, the new law would violate the constitution and will face challenge before the Supreme Court, according to Sen. Bongbong.
The remedy, Marcos said, is either to amend the draft BBL to make it consistent with the constitution or, amend the constitution to accommodate the drastic changes the BBL seeks to put in place.
“These are the peaceful, unifying, and constitutional ways of doing it. In the name of peace, let these be done. No shortcuts. No railroading. No threats of violence. No threats of war,” Sen. Bongbong stressed.
“Let us do this right, as one nation united by our Constitution and under one Flag,” he added.
Earlier, the Senator said he would prepare a substitute bill and top in his priority is addressing the constitutional issues against BBL.
Noting that just a few days ago the country commemorated our 117th year of independence, Marcos urged PLM students to remember and appreciate the sacrifices of our heroes made in unifying and liberating our country.
“More importantly, may we all, now as citizens of the country that they had helped establish, be able to continue the heroic work that they had done, by fighting for the preservation and continued integrity of our beloved country,” Sen. Bongbong said.
He vowed the substitute bill he is preparing will ensure the sovereignty and integrity of our country are kept intact even as it strives to achieve lasting peace and development in Mindanao and the entire country.