COMMENT: ‘Bong-Bong’ Bangs Away (3)

II. What He Sees (Continuation)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, June 22, 2015“Public Consultations”, the first matter discussed in the “Position Paper” submitted by the Philippine peace panel to the Senate Committee headed by Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., clarify the issue which Mr. Marcos raised against the OPAPP – that “no substantive consultations had been held with them (stakeholders) prior to or during negotiations”.

The three other “matters” in the “Paper” will clarify more the truthfulness of what Mr. Marcos sees and offer insight on the sanity of what he wants to do.

2nd: Convergence of Peace Processes

Consistent with the Aquino administration policy, the GPNP “exerted all possible efforts to ensure that the substance of the negotiations with the MILF is in harmony and convergence with the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF”. This was the goal of the “several meetings and ‘convergence workshops’ that were held with MNLF cadres in 2011” as shown in Table I of the consultations.

The Report explains: “This convergence is also in line with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) efforts to unite the ranks of the MNLF and the MILF in their search for a political settlement with the Philippine Government.” Consistent with this, the OIC was invited as formal observer “in the GPH-MILF peace negotiations in March 2012”.

The OIC has intensified its “efforts towards convergence of the MNLF and MILF peace tracks” despite the strain in MNLF-MILF relations due to “the Sabah standoff of February 2013 and the Zamboanga City crisis of September 2013.” The OPAPP has closely cooperated.

This convergence is manifested in Draft BBL with the adoption of 19 provisions from the ARMM Organic Act – RA No. 6734 as amended by RA No. 9054 based on the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement (See: HB 4994 or SB 2408, Article V. Section 4). Also adopted in various articles are the “so-called ‘42 Consensus Points’ of the GPH-MNLF-OIC Tripartite Implementation Review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement”.

Beyond rhetoric, Mr. Marcos has yet to present his concrete alternative.

3rd: Inclusive Substantive Provisions

The consultations have resulted in the substantive provisions of Draft BBL affecting the MNLF, the Sultanates and the IPs. They are assured seats in the Regional Parliament aside from what they can win in the elections (See: Article VII, Section 5). They are open for membership in advisory and policy-making bodies.

In particular, “… various sections of the draft BBL amply provides for recognition, protection and promotion of IP rights and interests in the Bangsamoro … that are articulated in domestic and international legal sources such as Republic Act no. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN-DRIP)”.

Here, too, beyond rhetoric, Mr. Marcos has still to spell out a better alternative.

4th: Support to the BBL

The “Paper”, to rebut the claims that there is no support to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the island provinces”, cites “the results of the Special Mindanao Survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in February 2015”. The results presented in graphs “demonstrate that there is indeed significant support for the approval of the proposed bill”. What does the survey show?

In favor are 59 percent in Basilan; 52 in Tawi-Tawi; 31 in Sulu; and 38 in Isabela City in Basilan. In the same island provinces and city 12, 22, 14 and 20 percent, respectively, are against – the undecided: 29, 26, 56 and 40.

The support in the mainland provinces, never questioned, is overwhelming — in Lanao del Sur: 90 percent, for; 4, against; 6, undecided; in Maguindanao: 83, for; 3, against; and 14, undecided; in Cotabato City: 76, for; 6. against; and, 18, undecided.

The over-all support in the five provinces of the ARMM and two included cities (not part of the ARMM) is 69.21 percent.

In geographical areas (barangays) in Lanao del Norte near (contiguous to) the ARMM, 83 percent are for; 6, against; and, 11, undecided; in the same areas in Cotabato Province: 93, for; 2, against; and, 5, undecided.

Question of validity: Is the contention of “significant support” valid based on the 69.21 percent favorable response from the five ARMM provinces and two no-ARMM included cities – higher, if that of the contiguous geographical areas is considered?

The preference of the Moros and other people in the proposed Bangsamoro must be respected. They have been consulted. Their preference is according to their informed, sound and free judgment. They are supporting Draft BBL for the peace and prosperity it promises to bring them after having suffered injustice and deprivation for so long.

Is the opposition valid? In the entire country, 23 percent are for; 48, against; and 29, undecided. This opposition of the 48 percent nationwide – plurality but not majority; many, not most — is the basis of those against Draft BBL in claiming its unacceptability.

This basis is erroneous. It is wrong for the majority to impose their preference on the minority against the good judgment — the weal and will of the latter. It is fallacious to conclude that the Draft BBL will not bring peace and prosperity to the Moros and to the other people in the proposed Bangsamoro just because many Filipinos do not like it in its “present form and substance”.

For more than one hundred years since the start of the American rule, the Moros have been told to follow what Filipinos liked but denied of what Filipinos had. During the peace negotiations – starting from1976, not just 1997 – they were promised change. But still they are being told to follow what the majority Filipinos like and not to ask for more than what the majority Filipinos will give. The opposition is also most unjust.


Mr. Marcos only sees what he wants to see. Evidently, he ignored the GPNP position paper which Chair Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer submitted for his May 18 Committee hearing. Despite the facts, he insisted in faulting the OPAPP for having no substantive consultations and totally ignoring the major stakeholders.

By inference, in his committee hearings he only “heard” the views supporting his views. Did his committee invite more resource persons hostile to the Government-MILF negotiation? Did it preferably invite disenchanted MNLF and IP representatives who wanted more concessions provided in BBL for them than what they had granted?

Media had reported endorsement of the FAB, CAB and Draft BBL from representatives of the Sulu Sultanate and top MNLF faction leaders other than those from the Misuari faction. Tables I and II of the “Paper” showed in the “audience” the wide cross-section of representatives from the MNLF and Sultanates including Misuari and the Sultan of Sulu. Yet, Mr. Marcos said they had been “totally ignored”.

By this mindset of Mr. Marcos, expect the report of the Senate Committee on Local Government to be a total rejection of Draft BBL (SB No. 4994). In fact, the rejection has already been more than hinted in the media before it is “officially and formally reported” in the Senate plenary. On this will be based the substitute BBL bill.

(Next: III. What he wants.)