COMMENT: Bangsamoro: Fulfillment or Denial Anew? (6)

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6th of a series

Defer to CAB and BBL

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 November) — Should they finally join the convergence process to craft the BEL will MNLF leaders, especially Misuari, defer to the CAB as the better negotiated agreement and the BBL as the better enabling law than the FPA or R.A. 9054? That is if they sincerely desire to have a truly Moro-centered political settlement of the Moro Question.

There is no more need – in fact it is no longer possible — to amend R.A. 9054 with the 42 consensus points of the Tripartite Review to “fully implement” the FPA in order to “fully implement” the 1976 Tripoli Agreement which has been comprehensively fleshed out in the CAB. Matters pertaining to the 42 consensus points must be in the BBL together with the relevant provisions of R.A. 9054 which have been adopted into the BBL.

The three issues that Misuari insisted to be resolved to his satisfaction were adequately addressed in the CAB and BBL or earlier — although, perhaps, not as MNLF and Misuari would want it. Misuari wanted the issues resolved strictly according to the letter of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement which had alreadybeen overtaken by events and time.

What are these issues and how have they been addressed?

First, hold a plebiscite to determine and establish the territory of Muslim Autonomy Region.

Disregarding the rigged plebiscite of 1977 under Marcos, plebiscites were held in 1989 under Cory Aquino and in 2001 under Arroyo. In 1989, four Moro provinces and no city voted YES (Moro province Basilan and city Marawi voted NO.) In 2001, Basilan and Marawi voted YES to expand the 1989 four-province ARMM. Obviously, Misuari wanted the exercise repeated over and over until all the 13 provinces (now 15) and their included cities in Part II of the Tripoli Agreement would vote to be in the Autonomy.

In the CAB, MILF accepted the 2001 ARMM as the core territory of the Bangsamoro plus the six municipalities of Lanao Norte and 39 barangays from six municipalities in North Cotabato that voted YES in the 2001 plebiscite. It further provided how Moro-dominated geographical areas of contiguous provinces may join the Bangsamoro. Most notably, MILF respected the will of the non-Moro majority not to join.

Of Note: The inclusion of the above-mentioned municipalities and barangays was provided in Part I, Paragraph 2(b) of the FPA and in the second paragraph of Article II, Section 1 of R.A. 9054. As Congress did not pass an implementing law as “understood”, they were not added to the ARMM.  MNLF should have included this as an issue for the Tripartite Review. That it did not revealed its questionable order of priorities.

Second, set up a provisional government to first administer the area of autonomy.

This was not provided in the FPA. Creating a provisional government through a decree according to the 1976 Tripoli Agreement would have been unconstitutional. Misuari, as an alternative, accepted the creation by an executive order of the SZOPAD (Special Zone of Peace and Development) out of the now 15-province area of autonomy with the Consultative Assembly composed of 40 MNLF members, 15 provincial governors and included-city mayors and sectoral representatives as its legislative arm. This was the “transitory mechanism”.

Seeing how the substantive provisions of the FPA are “identical, basically similar, complementary and supplementary” to those of R.A. No. 6734, we can speculate that Misuari and the MNLF had been outtalked to accept the ARMM which, for 20 years, they had vehemently rejected. As a bonus, Misuari was offered the governorship of the ARMM, which he accepted.

As ARMM governor and chair of the “transitory mechanism”, Misuari had vast powers. However, despite these vast powers, he failed to bring the non-Moro provinces and their included cities into the ARMM.

Third issue, on the “sharing of strategic minerals”, refers to the same exception clause in Paragraphs 146 and 147 of the FPA stating “except strategic minerals which will be defined later”. These paragraphs were intended to amend Section 2 of Article XVIII of R.A. No. 6734 which defines by enumeration strategic minerals. R.A. 9054 ignored the FPA while retaining R.A. No. 6734 and providing the sharing scheme.

Relevant to this issue, take note that under Paragraph 10 of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement “mines and mineral resources are within the competence of the Central Government”; but the government of the area of autonomy was entitled to a “reasonable percentage” share of the revenues from minerals which was to be “fixed” later. In R.A. 6734, the Congress amended “competence” with a deceptive “exception clause”.

Secretary Deles revealed that Government and MNLF had an interim agreement on this issue during the first formal meeting of Ad Hoc High Level Group in Solo, Indonesia on June 20-22, 2011. She considered the issue as having been complied with.

Government and MILF addressed this issue more comprehensively leaving nothing to be “fixed” later. An agreement to “fix” or “discuss” substantive issues “later” is one just to manage the crisis not to solve the problem.

More comprehensively than in RA 9054 (IX.9 and XII.5.a.b) and FPA (D.146.147), the FAB (IV.4) defined the issue in general; Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth-Sharing (VII.3) classified “minerals and mineral resources” into three, namely: (1) non-metallic, (2) metallic, and (3) fossil fuels and uranium subject to review; Draft BBL (XII.33.a) specified the revenue sharing: of “(1)”, 100% to Bangsamoro; of “(2)”, 75-25 in favor of Bangsamoro; and of “(3)”, 50-50.

To top all the above, Draft BBL (XIII.8) affirms the right and authority of Bangsamoro to explore and develop its natural resources, nature reserves and protected areas. That CAB and Draft BBL are more comprehensive than FPA and R.A. No. 9054 are manifested in their provisions. In crafting BEL, the FPA and R.A. 9054 may be further examined to possibly enhance of the BBL.

To sum up, deference to CAB and Draft BBL will simplify convergence and hasten with ease the crafting of BEL. CAB, Draft BBL. FPA, R.A. No. 9054 and R.A. No. 6734 must be scrutinized with reference to Paragraphs 4 to 10 of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement to determine what more to enhance Draft BBL as BEL. It should be noted that Draft BBL has already adopted provisions from the two RAs and other relevant laws.

Needless to emphasize, through the GPH and MILF implementing panels, the BTC and the representatives of MILF and different factions of MNLF must have the necessary working and inter-personal relations that will facilitate rather than complicate the convergence process so as to expedite the crafting of BEL. As already stated, all must focus on Bangsamoro as the solution to the Moro Question, subordinating to it tribal pride and animosities, divergent interests as well as personal superiority complex.

Uneasy question: Will MILF and MNLF unite? Will he defer to CAB and Draft BBL?

 Tomorrow: III. BEL Minus “BBL Objectionables” and Time

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