Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., today chided the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for failing to do their job of consulting all the stakeholders in the Bangsamoro Basic Law and instead tossing the burden to Congress.
OPAPP representative Usec. Jose Lorena admitted that none of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Sultanates of Mindanao, the indigenous people, or concerned local government officials, were represented in the government panel that negotiated a peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“So you were negotiating about the land, the culture, the history of the Sultanates and they were not included in the negotiations?” asked Marcos, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government tasked to deliberate on the proposed BBL.
Lorena claimed that during the negotiation process, the MILF was representing the Bangamoro people, adding that Bangsamoro congresses were held where resolutions were adopted supporting the peace process.
He also claimed that the OPAPP sees a two-tier consultation process: one in the actual negotiation with the MILF panel and another during the process of legislation for the BBL when the royal families of Mindanao, the IPs and other stakeholders will be consulted.
“We are doing your work for you. This is something you should have done during the process of negotiations so that when you presented the BBL to Congress then that version of the BBL incorporated into it all of the views, opinions, suggestions from all of the stakeholders,” Marcos said.
“How did you imagine that something as important, as far reaching, as profound as the creation of a Bangsamoro government in Muslim Mindanao, could possibly have been successful without including inputs, participation, consultation from all the sultanates, for that matter, from the IPs?”
He said that if only the OPAPP ensured that proper consultations were done, it would have ironed out early on any problems that would hinder BBL’s passage in Congress. Malacanang has expressed desire for the passage of BBL the sine die adjournment of Congress on June 10.
In contrast with the BBL, Marcos noted that all of the previous peace agreements with Muslim armed group in Mindanao have included the sultanates in the process.
He said he could not see how any peace process in Mindanao could succeed without the involvement “of the must ancient of all the royal houses—the Sultanates” in Mindanao, as they are extremely important in pushing for any kind of political change in the region.
Marcos also noted that when he met with OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) Secretary General Iyad bin Amin Madani, the latter stressed that the MNLF is the body that OIC recognizes and noted that MNLF was not involved in any of the discussions or negotiations that led to the drafting of the BBL.
The senator said the position papers submitted to his panel belie OPAPP’s claim that consultations were made with all stakeholders in the process leading to the drafting of the BBL.
Marcos in fact said he decided to conduct the hearing to address the “shocking revelation” that the Sultanates were not consulted with respect to BBL, along with other major stakeholders such as the MNLF, the IPs, and the local government officials.
“This is part of the series of hearings that this committee is undertaking for the specific purpose of giving voice to those stakeholders on the Bangsamoro issue,” Marcos said.