DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 January) — President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated he would push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and “will even go to the extent of resorting to an executive issuance to hasten it or if Congress itself fails to approve it,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said in a press statement Wednesday.
“Stressing that he can use the inherent powers of the Presidency,” Dureza said Duterte told leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led by MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim late Monday afternoon here that he is “ready to carve out through an executive order the area for the Bangsamoro for their self rule,” Dureza said.
Dureza also narrated that the President “reassured” the MILF that he would push for an early passage of the Bangsamoro law ahead of the shift to federalism.
MindaNews clarified with Dureza if an EO can carve out an area for the Bangsamoro when that is a legislative function.
“He will not create Bangsamoro but provide delineation of boundaries,” he replied.
Asked if an EO can do that, Dureza replied: “Cordillera Administrative Region without enabling law was done by Cory remember?” Cory is the late President Corazon Aquino.
The 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordillera. Congress passed the Organic Act, RA 6734 in 1989 creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but only four provinces voted for inclusion in the ARMM then. After the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, the ARMM law was amended by RA 9054 and in a plebiscite in 2001, the ARMM was expanded to five provinces and two cities.
The CAR was created on July 15, 1987 through Executive Order 220 issued by then President Aquino, supposedly as a first step to its becoming an autonomous region. The EO also appropriated funds for the region.
Aquino, however, could still exercise legislative powers at that time she issued the EO because the first Congress under the 1987 Constitution had not convened.
The EO mandated the CAR to “administer the affairs of government in the region…; accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units of the region; and prepare for the establishment of the autonomous region in the Cordilleras.
One of the whereases of the EO states that “pending the convening of the first Congress and the enactment of the organic act for a Cordillera autonomous region, there is an urgent need, in the interest of national security and public order, for the President to reorganize immediately the existing administrative structure in the Cordilleras to suit it to the existing political realities therein and the Government’s legitimate concerns in the areas, without attempting to pre-empt the constitutional duty of the first Congress to undertake the creation of an autonomous region on a permanent basis.”
The Organic Acts for the Cordillera Autonomous Region were twice rejected by the majority in the CAR during the plebiscites in 1995 and 1998.
“How can an administrative region be carved out when there is an existing ARMM within that proposed area to be carved out?” MindaNews asked Dureza.
“Let that be answered at the proper time. Too early to predict or even to speculate,” Dureza said.
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the government and MILF signed on March 27, 2014 provided for the creation of the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity that would replace the ARMM. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)