Cardinal Quevedo warns of red herrings in passage of BBL

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 January) — Mindanao’s lone Cardinal on Friday warned of red herrings as Congress deliberates on passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) ahead of the shift to a federal system of government.

Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, believes President Rodrigo Duterte’s “core conviction” is to pass the BBL first “before the concept of federalism will be approved.”

“Everything else other than this is a red herring. Such a red herring is the opinion of Speaker (Pantaleon) Alvarez who seems to be pushing hard for federalism as the solution to the Bangsamoro Question,” he told MindaNews in an e-mailed message.

“Other statements from the President should be considered in light of his core conviction. On this core conviction, the President and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) converge,” the Cardinal said.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI, the Archbishop of Cotabato, explains the need for a Bangsamoro Basic Lae to the Mindanao Sulu Pastoral Conference in Davao City in October 2017. MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

Quevedo also said that the various versions of the proposed Bangsamoro law  — four in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate — “are also red herrings.”

A red herring refers to something designed to divert attention from the main issue.

“In the end, such versions will give way to the BBL as drafted by the expanded BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission),” Quevedo said, stressing the BTC draft of the proposed BBL “has already resolved the constitutionality issue with regard to the constitutional agencies, by agreeing to place them as regional entities of their national counterparts. This, I believe, is a concrete application of the Principle of Subsidiarity that the BBL acknowledges as a foundational principle of self-determination.”

In a speech before the Mindanao Sulu Pastoral Conference in Davao City in October last year, Quevedo said federalism has been defined and defended by federalists as the solution to the Bangsamoro Question.

“Federalism is not the solution. It is a cop-out,” he said, explaining that the idea of many federalists is to put the Bangsamoro federal state on the same level as all other federal states, with same powers and same authority.” 

“But if that is true, then self-determination is not there. If that is true, then the territory is not going to be preserved. and that is why the push today is to help the Bangsamoro bill approved first and be a template for federalism because federalism will have a long way to go, it needs Charter change, it needs discussions and if you put up federal states, President Duterte cannot just say ‘push it.'”

Duterte told MindaNews on January 12 that that the Bangsamoro law should be passed first because “pagka i-amend mo ang Constitution, wala na yan. Wala ka nang barahang ibigay for Mindanao. Mahirapan kang lumusot” (once you amend the Constitution, that’s a goner. You won’t have a card left for Mindanao. It will be difficult to push for its passage). (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)