COMMENT: Complicating Implications (2)

II. On Proper Transition

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 February) – In the first part of this article, we discussed three significant complicating implications of the signing of the BBL – what the “spoilers” and the MNLF will ultimately do; and how impending constitutional questions will be resolved. As time runs out, these can adversely affect the proper transition of the Bangsamoro or even abort it.

How significant, really are these implications? Obviously, proper transition is not the primary priority of the President and his peace team; and, MILF seemed to have relaxed their alarm for diminishing time – as MILF Chairman Murad Ibahim once revealed to media.

It will be interesting to see how MILF can compromise time for proper transition and still have the Bangsamoro that will “solve the Bangsamoro Problem”

Conflicting Concerns

Even if the BBL is enacted in December and ratified by March 2015, there will be only fifteen months for the transition proper of the Bangsamoro until its inauguration in June 2016. But the period January to May 2016 will be the national election. The real transition proper will only be nine months – until December 2015.

However, from the statements of the President and his peace team, they are concerned about the sufficiency of time to elect the Bangamoro officials and inaugurate the Bangsamoro before the President steps down on June 30, 2016. But proper transition, not the election of the Bangsamoro officials and the inauguration of the Bangsamoro, is the key to how the Bangsamoro can “solve the Bangsamoro Problem”.

Read well the statements of the President at the just concluded ARMM Summit in Davao City. This he could be saying between the lines: The “satisfactorily reformed” ARMM will be turned over to the MILF. Renamed “Bangsamoro”, it will be the “solution” to the “Bangsamoro Problem”. This may explain why Government appears not seriously concerned with how the BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority) will transition the Bangsamoro.

But is the ARMM that satisfactorily reformed?

Hataman was appointed the ARMM OIC on December 22, 2011. According to MindaNews (February 13 2014: Only 7 of 116 ARMM towns receive Seal of Good Housekeeping), that year13 towns in the five-province, 116-town and two-city in the ARMM were awarded the SGH (Seal of Good Housekeeping), a good governance award of the Department of Interior and Local Government; in 2012, only seven received the award – among them five of the 13  awardees in 2011. Why the eight did not make it again is significant.

Starting 2011 under Hataman, the ARMM received more presidential assistance than in any other time since 1990; as reported to the President, the billions were honestly used in projects for the welfare of the Moros. Yet, as seen in the SGH awards, eight of the 13 in 2011 did not make it in 2012 and only two improved to meet the standards.

What does the MindaNews report mean? Leadership values, more than funds, are the key to good governance.

Proper transition will make the Bangsamoro different from the ARMM renamed “Bangsamoro”. The change in name is superficial; the change from “unitary” to “asymmetrical” relationship with the national government is a move for more autonomy which is a theory to be worked into a reality because of Bangsamoro indeterminate budgetary dependence on the national government. The change to ministerial form of government has still to pass an experimental stage.

The asymmetrical relationship and ministerial form of government will prosper and succeed or fail on the how moral, social and political values of the Moro leaders and the people especially, the electorate, would change. Yet, the “how” is the biggest question mark? That is where proper transition will make the difference.

Interim or Transition Stage

Upon the ratification of the BBL, the ARMM is deemed abolished, the elective regional officials resign and the BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority) takes over. We presume that the BBL will provide in its Article on Transitory Provisions the mandate and powers of the BTA – to be reiterated in the Executive Order creating the BTA. We presume, too, that such mandate and powers will be exercised over the regional government and the local government units. The local government units are components of the Bangsamoro.

We don’t know how the BTA will be constituted. But it can be discerned from the pertinent provisions of the FAB and related Agreements that the BTA will be the Interim Legislative Assembly which will create the ministries according to the BBL and elect the prime minister who, in turn, will appoint the ministers and staff the cabinets.

To give Bangsamoro genuine autonomy, the Department of Interior and Local Government must – and is expected to — fully devolve to the BTA its jurisdiction over the LGUs which the BTA will assume according to the BBL, applying the relevant provisions of the Local Government Code until the Regional Legislative Assembly can enact the Bangsamoro Local Government Code.  The jurisdiction over the LGUs must not be divided between the Bangsamoro and the DILG – the DILG not interfering in whatever way in the affairs of the Bangsamoro LGUs.

The creation and staffing of the ministries will take time. Orientation to the ministerial system may take longer. Overhauling the old system to the new will be as complicated or difficult as teaching old dogs new tricks. What ARMM will turn over to the Bangsamoro are not just the inventories of property, financial and other records but office workers oriented to the old system – to be re-oriented by the staffs of the ministries still orienting themselves to the new system.

Can all these be done effectively in nine months?

Changing Values

The BTA must be starting on a new code of values – written or unwritten and, most probably ad hoc and evolving. The interim Bangsamoro regional government is expected to model these new values and effect change down to the LGUs. The change should be manifested in the evolving governance both at the regional and local levels.

Governor Hataman might have instituted effective change in the regional level of the ARMM government but as seen from the 2011 and 2012 SGH awards, there had been insignificant change, if any, in the local level. What does this mean? Two years were short a time for change of values.

Moral, social and political re-orientation must include the entire Moro, IDP and other classes of people in the Bangsamoro.  But as this will take time to evolve, the change that they will see during the transition period should trigger the evolution. If they see and feel the effects of the new governance, they will appreciate the officials running the government; they will want to elect the same kind of officials into office. Once done in the first Bangsamoro election and the people are happy with good governance, it will soon become an electoral habit.

The transition proper is for a good start in changing values. Will nine months be enough?


The transition proper also means preparing the Bangsamoro people to elect their officials suited for good governance. We believe the first election is very important.

The first element of change is in values. That we discussed above. Change must start through proper examples during the transition proper and evolve into a habit in due time.

The second element is the electoral system – as provided in the FAB and related Agreements, “suitable to a ministerial form of government”. This will be provided in detail in the BBL. The Bangsamoro Legislative Assembly – in all probability, the Interim – will enact the suitable election code. This will take some time.

This electoral system, according to the FAB, will encourage the “formation of genuinely principle political parties”. It will take time to organize and propagate truly principled political parties — unless they only replicate the same regional and national political parties that sprouted under the so-called “multiple party system” so devoid of “principles”. While not explicitly provided, implicitly, for the system to accomplish its purpose, election in the Bangsamoro must be separately held.

Do the FAB and related Agreements mean what they provide?

But when the President speaks of Bangsamoro election to elect the officials of the Bangsamoro to be inaugurated before he steps down on June 30, 2016, he could only mean election synchronized with the May 2016 presidential election.


1. Can changes in electoral values and electoral system be properly done in time for the election of the Bangsamoro officials in May 2016?

2. Can the Bangsamoro take off on the right foot with officials of the same breed – unprincipled so-called leaderswho, elected under the same electoral system election after election, had not lifted the Moro people out of the pit of bad governance?


The original MILF proposal for a one-year pre-interim and a six-year interim period was most wise. Value and system transformation needs time to take root. Sowed properly by example and practice, from the transformation will evolve the Bangsamoro founded on sound values and strong system. However, seven years exceed the term of the President and his government; MILF must have considered the negotiation as with Philippine Government, not with the government of a particular President.

But to make possible the entrenchment of the Bangsamoro under the Aquino III regime, MILF agreed to a three-year transition period. When the negotiations were barely moving, MILF Chair Murad Ibrahim expressed alarm over the constricting of the transition period. With the last Annex signed last month, the transition period will be for nine months only – excluding the time for election in 2016 – granting that the Congress can deliver on its guarantee to enact the BBL within December 2015.

Does MILF believe now that it can make do in nine months what it had originally proposed for seven years then compromised it to three years?

Is MILF now ready to accept the ARMM named “Bangsamoro” – essentially, the original proposal of Government under its “3 for 1 Proposal”? This appears to be the only option left for MILF to consider. It appears, too, that MILF has already considered and accepted the option.

Does the Aquino III government really mean what it has repeatedly said that “the President will not commit what it cannot deliver”?

It has committed to deliver the Bangsamoro as the solution to the Bangsamoro problem. Will the Bangsamoro to be inaugurated as his legacy in June 2016 without the proper transition be that commitment — the Bangsamoro that will solve the Bangsamoro problem? 

It is not. It cannot be without the proper transition. To be that commitment, it must be allowed to go the full length of three years. After that, it will hold its first election under the Bangsamoro electoral system separately from the national elections.


Will that deprive Aquino III of his legacy? Not! The Bangsamoro is deemed entrenched upon the ratification of the BBL and the setting up of its interim government under the BTA. His legacy is assured. Let the establishment of the regular government and the stabilization of Bangsamoro be the legacy of other Presidents after him.

Are Aquino III and his government thinking that peace with MILF and the solution of the Moro Problem their work alone? That is egocentrism. Is that why “Government of the Republic of the Philippines” has been changed from “GRP” to “GPH”?

In capsule, the peaceful solution of the Mindanao or Moro Problem is a long process. President Fidel V. Ramos started it; President Joseph Estrada signed the Ceasefire Agreement and opened the first round of formal talks; President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, reviving it after President Estrada had scuttled it with an “all-out war”, initialed the MOA-AD, the ill-fated first framework agreement; President Aquino III, as the FAB and its Annexes show, continued and completed the “renegotiation” or “re-framing” of the MOA-AD according to the advice of the Supreme Court in its October 14, 2008 Decision declaring the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

President Aquino III must be remembered for doing his part of the process. But as the process is far from over, he can enhance his legacy by ensuring the proper transition of the Bangsamoro to make it easier for other presidents after him to help stand on its own feet.

How effectively the Bangsamoro can solve the Mindanao or Moro Problem will depend on the soundness of the values of its leaders and people and on the efficiency of its asymmetrical relation with the Central Government and its ministerial form of government. These are what future presidents are expected to help Bangsamoro attain – easier done if the Bangsamoro is properly transitioned.  [“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You may e-mail your comments to]