Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. vowed to put an ironclad guarantee in the Bangsamoro Basic Law to ensure it will not be used as a launching pad for separatism by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government tackling the BBL, told Karen Davila in an interview over ANC that he will put back in the BBL an anti-separatist provision found in the organic law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
He noted widespread suspicions on the sincerity of the MILF to pursue the peace process, especially the concern that they are using the BBL as a first step to separate from the Philippines.
“The territorial integrity of the republic must be ensured,” Marcos said.
“There is language in the ARMM organic law saying that this will not be used as a separatist move, and ‘we pledge allegiance to the Philippine Republic’. That has been removed in the BBL; I will put it back,” Marcos said.
Apart from this, Marcos said the fact that the BBL, if approved, will have to go through a plebiscite can be taken as another form of safeguard against separatist move.
“This has to go through a plebiscite, so it cannot changed that easily. The fact that there is a plebiscite is some kind of guarantee that the structures, the system, as it has been agreed upon, will not change. And those mechanisms will certainly not include the option of the Bangsamoro government saying at some point: hiwalay na kami sa Pilipinas,” Marcos said.
Marcos said such move is necessary to restore public confidence in the peace process severely eroded following the tragic encounter between MILF forces and Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano last January 25 that claimed the lives of 44 lawmen.
The senator likewise urged the MILF to soften their stand against the surrender of their fighters that will be charged criminally in connection with the Mamasapano incident.
In its report on the Mamasapano incident the Department of Justice said they will file murder charges against 90 individuals from the MILF, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups involved in the Mamasapano incident.
But even before this, the MILF insisted that following the protocols established in their peace pact with the government, they have the responsibility to discipline their erring members. The MILF report on the Mamasapano incident also justified their action against the SAF commandos.
Marcos said it is possible the MILF is taking a hard stance based on their belief that despite the Mamasapano controversy Congress will pass BBL anyway with the active support of the administration.
“They have expressed that opinion before: We have negotiated with the President and therefore the rest of the government should follow,” Marcos pointed out.
However, Marcos pointed out that the principle of dealing only with the executive and the rest of the government should follow, only applies to foreign treaties.
“And this is why we’ve become a little nervous, because they seem to be treating themselves as a foreign entity, and therefore treaties with them should be treated as such. So that I think is a source of concern,” Marcos said.
“I think they should be more circumspect in this kind of pronouncements,” he warned.