COMMENT: Bangsamoro: Fulfillment or Denial Anew? (2)

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2nd of a series:

Duterte Peace Roadmap: Imperatives and Options

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 Nov) — The establishment of the Bangsamoro is keyed to federalism. The Congress is sure to push through federalism; but if the people reject it at the plebiscite, the Bangsmoro will still be established according to the approved enabling law. This is President Duterte’s assurance to MILF and the Moros in his Harirayah speech and State of the Nation Address last July 8 and 25 respectively. 

In his SONA (State of the Nation Address), he stated: “We will strive to have a permanent and lasting peace before my term ends. That is my goal; that is my dream.” This is a reiteration of what he declared in his Harirayah speech: “I foresee that towards the end of the year, we’d be able to come up with the framework, kung paano gawin ang  federalism (how to set up federalism). But, if the Filipino nation and a plebiscite would not want it, then I am ready to concede whatever is there in the BBL Law.”

We surmise that in his rumblings and fumblings in Tagbilish (a mixture of Tagalog in Bisaya word and sentence constructions and English) in his SONA, he wanted to say that his proposal of lasting peace needs the acceptance of MNLF leaders Nur Misuari and Muslimin Sema and the political leaders of Mindanao. This proposal can be traced back to the first peace talk between Misuari and President Marcos.    

What did he propose addressing the Congress? Pass the BBL “minus the things that you do not want” – the constitutionally controversial and other contentious provisions. These will be included in the package of proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution for the establishment of federalism and later reintegrated into the BBL. He exhorted: “That is the solution for Mindanao. Nothing else. Believe me. Nothing else will do. Please sleep on it, ponder on it, because that’s the only way to proceed.”

This was reported by Rappler (7/25/16). He laid out the same proposal in his Harirayah speech, before the military in Camp Siongco in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (Star, 7/23/16), and in his talk to Moro local government officials and plantation workers in Buluan, Maguindano (MindaNews, /23/16).

What did he tell the Moro officials and workers in his Buluan speech? Just referring to “the enabling law”, he said he wanted this passed and implemented “bukas kaagad” or “immediately tomorrow” but it would be “minus the provisions where constitutionality issues are being raised”. His audience must have understood the reference to be “BBL”; they applauded his declaration, although with some fearing that the law would be like the watered down BLBAR’

To allay the fears, he said: “Then maybe someday, if we go federal, eh yun na idagdag, ibalik doon sa Constitution ng federal, ibalik na natin yung .. ayaw ng gobyerno tapos yung gusto ninyo (let’s add those, lets’ incorporate them into the Federal Constitution, let’s restore what government does not like but what you like (into the new Constitution).”

However, in his Harirayah speech, the lyric of his peace tune was different: “Let us build a nation that will be founded on peace and understanding. Ang tingin ko, with the grace of Allah, I might be able to do this within six years. It will not come overnight. Certainly, it will not come next year. Probably, it will be something about two to three years from now. but I assure you that something will change before I end my term.”

By “BBL”, he could be referring to the “enabling law” or “BEL” which the new BTC is mandated to submit to the Congress by July 2017. Since it must be CAB-compliant; it is expected to contain the contentious and constitutionally controversial provisions as in Draft BBL. Considering that it will go through the legislative mill simultaneously with federalization¸ the “bukas kaagad” will be indeterminate.

He mentioned in his Harirayah speech his idea of reconfiguring the Bangsamoro territory or the ARMM area with the consent of “my MILF brothers and Nur Misuari of the MN” and “everybody in Mindanao”. He believed that “… in fairness to Nur, we might also configure his territory of the Tausug nation”.

He explained the reconfiguration — setting up a “Tausug nation” – to be not adverse to the unity of Mindanaons. “Then, we will have a new boundaries (sic) and these boundaries does (sic) not really intend to separate our brother Moro from the Christian. Rather, it is intended only to delineate territories. But, that should not keep us apart from being Mindanaoans. For you know, you must realize that most of the Christians here in Mindanao, your brother Christians, are supporting the federalism and the BBL.”


These imperatives and options complete the peace roadmap spoken of by Dureza in his briefings to the peace implementing panels and in his press interviews and various conferences. Let us summarize the key points of the Duterte Peace Roadmap inferred from the pronouncements of the President and the Peace Secretary and, in some cases affirmed by MILF or the Government and MILF implementing panels.

Implementation: The peace process is now in the implementing phase. The negotiations over, the Government and MILF implementing panels will direct the implementation of the CAB, the 1996 FPA and other laws, coordinating the mechanisms and modalities already in place. The panels will hold their planning sessions in the Philippines but the “formal documents like the term of reference for the Panels would still have to be signed in Kuala Lumpur (Iqbal, Luwaran: 9/3/16)”.  These were firmed up in the August 13-14 Government-MILF meeting.

Drafting of the Bangsamoro Enabling Law:  A new enabling law – to be referred to as Bangsamoro Enabling Law (BEL) “to avoid confusion and to unload the baggage attached to the initials (Santiago, MindaNews: 9/1/16) – will be drafted by the new BTC to replace BBL and to be submitted to the Congress by July 2017. 

Convergence and Inclusivity: The BEL will be the consolidation of the CAB, the 1996 FPA and some relevant provisions of IPRA, and R.A. No. 9054. All stakeholders – MILF, MNLF factions, the IPs, the Sultanates and LGUs – will be represented in the BTC to insure the desired convergence. An All-Moro Assembly will approve BEL before its submission to the Congress.  

Simultaneous Tracks: The legislative processes to establish the Bangsamoro and to shift from the unitary to the federal form of government will be simultaneously done although the Bangsamoro will be established ahead of the Federal Government.

The Congress will pass the BEL, minus constitutionally controversial and contentious provisions in 2017. Once the BEL is ratified in the plebiscite, the BTA (Bangsamoro Transition Authority) will run the provisional government — the Bangsamoro regular officials to be elected in 2019. The objectionable provisions of BEL will be considered as proposed constitutional amendments to be included in the deliberations ConAss to amend the 1987 Constitution.

With the Bangsamoro as model for federal states, the federal constitution will be submitted to a plebiscite during the 2019 election. If approved, the transitory federal government will be set up, the regular federal government to be elected in 2022.     

Establishment of the Bangsamoro: The establishment of the Bangsamoro is a must, not an option, President Duterte declared. Even if federalization is rejected by the people, the Bangsamoro will be set up as the only way to bring about lasting peace. 

Massive Economic Development: An integral part of autonomy, this is not an option. As Dureza emphasized, “I can sign a hundred peace agreements but if those on the ground do not immediately feel the dividends of peace, those agreements will not be sustainable.” In the August 13-14 Kuala Lumpur meeting, they agreed to continue the “implementation of deliverables under the Program for Normalization, including the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund and was agreed upon”.

Reconfiguration of Bangsamoro Area: This has not been mentioned as part of the peace roadmap. But since it is the idea of President Duterte — besides appearing to be the realistic solution to the evident disunity between the Sulu-based and mainland Mindanao-based Moro fronts and constituents — it may be considered in the configuration of the federal states. Or, the Implementing Panels can suggest to the BTC to give it a second thought.

Dr. Julkipli Wadi, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines aptly observed in his article, Du30, Peace Process, and the Moro Struggle”: “…the Bangsamoro peace process has long become a “narrative of tragedies” where the beginning of the term of certain administration often starts with so high a promise of peace only to deteriorate at the middle or end of its term” (Mindanews: 7/14/16),

In all peace agreements and legislations to address the Mindanao Problem, the Moros were made happy with hope for ultimate deliverance from injustices and realization of their long-time aspirations only to be denied eventually, each time, of the promise of life in peace, prosperity, contentment and human dignity. Will President Duterte’s peace roadmap end differently — in fulfillment?

Tomorrow: II. BBL to BEL 


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