COMMENT: ‘Bong-Bong’ Bangs Away (1)

I. Egotism and Arrogance

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, June 9, 2015 – On Wednesday, June 3, Sen. Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos delivered a privilege speech right after the 14th (actually, 17th) hearing of his Committee on Local Government on SB 2408 (Draft BBL), the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. He sounded impressive – just “sounded”. (See: “Mindaviews” section of Mindanews, June 7, 2015)

The speech, entitled “In the Name of Piece”, was well crafted – like a winning piece in the annual Jaycee “I Speak for Democracy” oratorical contest of the 1950s. Listened to or read alone, it’s an eloquent rejection of Draft BBL as the proposed basic or organic law to create Bangsamoro; but its assumptions are questionable.


The speech is against a bill that is not yet being debated in the plenary. It sounds like a report of the Committee that has not finished its hearings and has neither written nor voted on its findings. However, it is a good specimen of egotism and arrogance. [He said in a MindaNews report, yesterday (June 8), he would write his committee’s report after the last hearing today.]

The speech opens with three “I’s” (Bold italics, ours):

I rise today to speak on a matter of profound importance to the national interest.

I stand before you in the name of peace. Like our Muslim and Christian brothers, our Lumads and our indigenous people, I too, long for peace — an equitable, enduring peace. Peace with justice. Peace with honor. Peace for all.

I have walked the proverbial extra mile in search of peace; peace in Mindanao; peace in the land.”

Beautiful! Beautiful intro of an oration!

Towards the end, let there be no doubt. He is not just the head of the Senate Committee on Local Government; he is the Committee. The destiny of the nation is in his hands. He vowed:

“I will not be rushed. I will see to it that any peace agreement we fashion with the MILF will be inclusive. It should protect the integrity of our country. I will make sure that Mindanao or any part of our Republic will not secede from us. I will stand my ground so that our country is not dismembered. I will do whatever it takes to help achieve an enduring and equitable peace in Mindanao.

“Hindi ako tumatakbo sa responsibilidad o sa anumang problema. Hinaharap ko ang hamon ng panahon. (I am not running away from responsibility or any kind of problem. I am standing up to the challenge of the time.)”

Perdition, Not Peace

After eight months and 14 public hearing, he summed up his Committee’s findings:

Unfortunately, the BBL in its present form and substance will not bring us any closer to peace. Instead, it will lead us to perdition. Armed conflict will ensue. Blood will be shed. And when blood is shed, it will not distinguish between right and wrong; between young and old, neither between men and women, nor soldiers or rebels, combatants and civilians, rich, poor, Muslims, Christians. Nobody wins. Everybody loses.”

He attributed this to the unconstitutionality and lack of inclusivity of Draft BBL. The speech dwells lengthily on unconstitutionality – a recital of the report of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chair of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes.

We are not going to comment on the “issue of constitutionality” section of the speech; we are reserving that for a separate COMMENT article. Suffice it to say that Santiago’s report is more like a Supreme Court decision than a committee report. Despite its avowed “erudition” and arguments citing authorities, international agreements and authoritative documents, some conclusions are questionable – hence, its implications on Draft BBL unconstitutionality as seen by Marcos.

What may really “lead to perdition” is not “BBL in its present form and substance” but the arrogance of Senators Marcos and Santiago and their allies in the Senate in rejecting Draft BBL.

Dismissive of OPAPP

One instance of arrogance is Marcos’ dismissiveness of the accomplishment of the Office of the Presidential Assistance on the Peace Process. Despite the position paper submitted to his committee by the GPH Peace Panel last May 18, he said:

“After a series of meetings with the stakeholders, it became obvious to me that no substantive consultations had been held with them prior to or during negotiations. The Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) totally ignored the major stakeholders. The Sultanate of Sulu, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Lumads, the Indigenous people, the Christians, the Local Government Units and businesses were abandoned, removed from the negotiating process.”

What does the GPH Peace Panel position paper reveal?

As stated in the “Paper’s” preliminary paragraph, it contains “some clarifications on important issues that have been raised during the last two public hearings on Senate Bill No. 2408 or the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), especially as they relate with the subject of today’s (May 18) hearing with the representatives and supporters of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), as well as for the coming hearing with the Sultanates, the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), and the local government executives”.

The “Paper” expounded the panel’s positions: (1) On the Matter of Public Consultations; (2) Convergence of MNLF and MILF Peace Process; (3) Substantive Provisions of the BBL affecting the MNLF, the Sultanates and the IPs; and, (4) Support to the BBL: SWS Survey Results. The “Paper” also contains tables showing the consultations done by the GHP Peace Panel since 2010.

The “Paper” acknowledged it is truly unfortunate that some groups and individuals feel that they have not been consulted”. But, the facts are for the Senate Committee to see “that, from 2010 until 17 May 2015, the GPH Peace Panel has conducted and participated in a total of five hundred fifty three (553) consultation activities … in order to shed light on the developments in the peace process with the MILF as well as to share and gather information, positions, and insights from the various stakeholders”.

Out of the 553 consultation activities, 48 were with the MNLF representatives and supporters (ten times); the Sultanates in Mindanao (six times); and, the IPs (32 times).

MILF corroborated the GPH Peace Panel (Luwaran Editorial, June 8-15: ‘War is not an option’), addressing Marcos, “By the way, virtually all those who were invited to your recent senate hearings, Mr. Senator, were reached out or consulted by the MILF and government peace panels, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) or the civil society organizations (CSOs) who push for peace in Mindanao and the BBL in Congress.”

Certainly, all the 14 consultations the Marcos Committee had done as of May 14 and the four more after that including today, June 9, cannot compare with the 48 by the GPH Peace Panel with the MNLF, Sultanates and IPs in inclusiveness and comprehensiveness of substance. Marcos’ dismissiveness must alarm the senators, especially Senate President Franklin Drilon, if the Senate is truly the House of “Honorables”.

“Bong Bong’s” banging away is plain arrogance, lack of courtesy and bullying.

(To Be Continued)