MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 July) – And there’s so much time to make up/Everywhere you turn/Time we have wasted on the way/So much water moving/Underneath the bridge/Let the water come and carry us away.
These are lines from the song “Wasted on the Way” by Graham Nash which became a hit among the members of my generation who love folk music. But it might as well provide a good reflection for those who are keenly following how the peace process between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation has unfolded after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
Based on reports – and rumors – things have not been rosy between the two peace panels. MILF officials have openly declared [their] disappointment at how Malacañang has diluted the substance of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law. The MILF position, as stated in the editorial of luwaran.com (July 23, 2014) is clear: 1. All those issues that are settled in the FAB and its Annexes will not be subject for renegotiation; and 2. Settled language in the FAB and its Annexes will not be subject for renegotiation.
Aside from the substantial changes, it took 61 days from the submission of the draft BBL to the Palace before the Bangsamoro Transition Commission received a copy of the draft bearing the comments of the Office of the President. Delayed? It looked more like ambushed.
The problem is that there may no longer be enough time for the BBL to recuperate. With less than two years left of the Aquino presidency, the future of the BBL hangs in the balance. Even if the president hinted in his State of the Nation Address on Monday that its passage should be among the priority bills in Congress the political environment may no longer be as favorable as before.
And in a situation where the president’s ratings have dipped amid failed expectations in relation to his government’s half-hearted campaign against graft and corruption, lawmakers would feel they can fleece more favors in exchange for the passage of vital laws like the BBL.
Theoretically at least, the pork barrel is gone. And so is the Disbursement Acceleration Program. Both had been the biggest leverage (read bribe) of the executive in its dealings with Congress. But since these have been declared as unconstitutional Malacañang is probably at a loss how to keep lawmakers, the pork lovers in particular, in tow.
In short, the BBL – and with it, lasting peace in Mindanao – will be hostage to transactional politics.
Let the water carry us away, but not to the sea of conflict once again – please.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)