|Former DILG chief with some members of FORMA|
By Rafael M. Alunan III
22 May 2015
MAY 24 YES TO PEACE, NO TO THE BBL PRAYER RALLY 8 A.M. SUNDAY AT THE LUNETA PARK
YES TO PEACE. NO TO THE BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW!
Retain and Strengthen the ARMM and Local Autonomy.
Today, we find our nation in peril and our democratic way of life under threat, both externally and from within. All too often, the common good and national interests are sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, corruption and self-serving hidden agendas.
Nowhere is this disconnect from reality more pronounced than on the issue of the “peace process” undertaken exclusively with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that produced the Comprehensive Agreement on BangsaMoro (CAB), and the BangsaMoro Basic Law (BBL), a proposed bill that seeks to replace R.A. 6734 that created the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
We believe that a significant majority in Mindanao, and around the country, opposes the CAB-BBL because the process was not transparent, inclusive and thoroughly consultative, not unlike the MOA-AD that the CAB mirrors, which the Supreme Court struck down during the term of former president Gloria Arroyo.
Yet, government has chosen to ignore the people’s dire warnings so far to change course in order to achieve real peace. It continues to press for its passage not later than June 2015. The Aquino administration is subsequently violating the Tripoli Agreement and dismissing the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF.
We are a group of Filipino citizens from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao that oppose the BBL for the following reasons:
1. MALAYSIA: The choice of Malaysia as third party mediator was ludicrous because it is conflicted. Malaysia opposes our Sabah claim and has persistently undermined our nation's stability as a state that funded, organized and trained secessionist groups – originally the MNLF and, subsequently, the MILF.
2. BASIC LAW: The nomenclature BangsaMoro Basic Law (BBL) is in itself, a thinly veiled attempt at usurping the constitution. "Basic Law" connotes a constitution of a state, in this case, the BangsaMoro, to which all laws must conform.
3. BANGSAMORO TERRITORY: Sec 2 to 5, Art III of the BBL defines the BangsaMoro Territory and suggests a separate territorial enclave within sovereign Philippine territory. It aims to give a homeland to a group that does not represent the hopes and aspirations of excluded sectors and infested with Islamist radicals connected to the global jihadist movement under a caliphate.
4. SELF-GOVERNANCE AND RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION: Sec 1 Art IV speaks of self-governance. Later on, the “RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION" was inserted showing manifest bad faith on the part of the MILF. The intent cannot be mistaken for anything but a prelude to a subsequent declaration of independence or secession.
5. A PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Sec 2 Art IV of the BBL prescribes a parliamentary form of government that contravenes Section 1 Art 2 and Sec 1 Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, which mandate a Republican and Presidential form of government.
6. BANGSAMORO POLICE AND BANGSAMORO COMMAND: Sec 2 Art XI creates a BangsaMoro Police, while Sec 15 Art XI establishes a BangsaMoro Command both of which will nominally be part of the PNP and AFP. Their creation constitutes a duplication of sovereign prerogatives, violating Section 3 Article II and Section 6 Article XVI of the 1987 Constitution, which recognize the AFP as the sole bearer of military arms and the PNP as the sole security apparatus of the state, respectively.
7. BANGSAMORO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES: The provisions creating a Civil Service (Sec 2 par. 1.8 Art. V); a Police Board equivalent to the NAPOLCOM (Sec 5 Art XI); a Commission on Human Rights (Sec 7 Art IX); a Public Attorney’s Office and Prosecution Service (Sec 18-19 Art X); a Commission on Audit (Sec 2 Art XII); a Tax Office (Sec.11 Art XII), and a Sharia Judicial and Bar Council (Sec 10 Art 10X), can only be viewed as a clear usurpation and duplication of sovereign functions and powers.
8. WALI: Sec 1 Art VIII of the BBL, creating the position of WALI or titular head of the BangsaMoro that mirrors the role of a head of state.
9. RELATIONS WITH THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT: Sec 1-2 Art VI imposes an “Asymmetric Relationship” and “Parity of Esteem” to govern relations between the proposed entity and the Central government giving the former equal status and parity with the latter. With all the elements of a state virtually granted and guaranteed by the proposed basic law (people, sovereignty, territory and government) the BBL will create a parallel state and can lead to no other conclusion other than an eventual bid by the MILF at independence.
10. PEACE PROCESS: We have reason to believe that the process that was undertaken that led to the signing of the CAB was furtive, not unlike the process that the Arroyo Administration chose to take in trying to obtain public approval for the unlamented MOA-AD. Contrary to this administration’s claims, the peace panel chose to be exclusionary and failed to undertake extensive, open and transparent consultations of all stakeholders within the area of interest. The MOA-AD was brought before the Supreme Court where it was struck down for all the reasons mentioned. The same should be done to the CAB-BBL.
11. INTERNAL SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY: The recent massacre of forty-four (44) PNP Special Action Force law enforcers by the MILF-BIFF and other sympathetic armed groups, has thrown the MILF-BIFF’s sincerity and trustworthiness further into question. The MILF-BIFF is connected to the global jihadist movement, mainly Al Qaeda and Jema’ah Islamiya. Its alleged breakaway group, the BangsaMoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), has reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS. The MILF and BIFF were co-located in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that provided safe harbor to international terrorists with bounties on their heads – Marwan and Usman. Granting the MILF a homeland is akin to putting a revolver to our heads and playing Russian roulette. Retired Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano said he does not believe the BBL alone can bring peace to Mindanao. The peace problem in Mindanao he said “cannot be whisked away by uttering the word 'peace' no matter how often or loudly the utterance might be.”
12. CULTURE: BBL proponents say that ARMM was a “failed experiment” citing the regional government’s failure to reverse its feudalistic practices, poverty, economic backwardness, rebellion, terror and revenge killings. Changing the political system is the recommended solution to its cultural problem. ARMM’s creation was not an experiment. Its failure lies not in the political system but in the attitudes, behavior and skills of the people. Breaking the vicious cycle requires persistent and sufficient investments in capacity and capability building especially in the tenets of good governance. This is the real solution to the failure of governance in ARMM. If the driver keeps crashing the car, the solution is to retrain the driver instead of changing the car.
13. Social Justice: Proponents say that the BBL addresses the centuries of social injustice suffered by the Muslims in Mindanao. Social injustice, we maintain, is a national concern that has bred armed rebellions and social discontent around the country. Feudalistic practices and the revenge culture are causes of social injustice. So is exclusion that the incumbent administration is accused of. In summary, the BBL betrays the public trust, violates the Constitution; undermines Philippine sovereignty and places public safety and internal security at grave risk. While the incumbent administration maintains that peace in Mindanao will be outgrowth of the BBL, we believe otherwise.
The BBL will be the nation’s undoing. It will inflict more violence and bloodshed; and usher in the country’s eventual disintegration. Every Filipino seeks an enduring peace, but not one obtained furtively and ignores the red flags that could further fragment society, dismember the country and cause more bloodshed. The Comprehensive Agreeement on BangsaMoro and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (CAB-BBL), as signed and originally submitted to Congress, respectively, should be stoutly opposed and rejected. We implore you, our people’s representatives, to do what is right for the sake of our people and the nation’s future.