Federalism seen as answer to Mindanao question

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY  (MindaNews/28 May) — — Members of the Committee on Constitutional Amendment said a shift from a unitary to federal system of government, may provide the long-term solution to the Mindanao conflict.

Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, 2nd district of Cagayan de Oro told MindaNews that under a federal system, each of the country’s administrative region will have political and economic autonomy and issues on the right to self-determination will be addressed.

Rodriguez said federalism could be the “ultimate solution” to the Bangsamoro issue.

Under a federal system,each of the country’s administrative regions will have political and economic autonomy and issues of right to self-determination will be addressed, Rodriguez told MindaNews.

Misamis Occidental Rep. Loreto Leo S. Ocampos, chair of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments said that for now, they will have to defer to the executive initiative of the peace process being pushed by the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Ocampos said that they are closely coordinating with Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) on the peace process imperatives for Charter Change.

In a  forum on the decentralization and political reforms organized by the Centrist Democratic Movement and held here on May 14,  retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno said the elusive peace Mindanao should be on top of the charter change discussions

“I hope that we can have Charter Change that already integrates Mindanao peace concerns before a final peace pact between the GPH (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) is forged,”  he said, adding, without this, there might be a repeat of the 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

The MOA-AD was initialed by the government and MILF peace panels in late July 2008 and was scheduled for formal signing a week later, on August 5 in Kuala Lumpur. But its signing was stopped by a temporary restraining order issued by the Puno-led court afternoon of August 4.  The court in mid-October declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional by a vote of 8-7.

The government and MILF peace panels are scheduled to meet again on June 27 and 28 in Kuala Lumpur, where the government panel is expected to present its draft peace proposal.

The MILF handed over its proposal to the government peace panel in February which is “not a document seeking independence,” as government peace panel chair Dean Marvic Leonen described it.

The proposal calls for the creation of a Bangsamoro sub-state.

Datu Michael Mastura, senior member of the MILF peace panel, said during a consultation in Davao City with Catholic Bishops in Mindanao and with Mindanao’s business executives in late March: “we are asking for a Bangsamoro State,  not a separate state but a sub-state. It can be like Queensland of Australia, it can be like that of Massachusetts, or it can be like Kelantan or Sabah or Sarawak in Malaysia, in a federation. But since you do not like, the rest of the country does not like federal – we go for associative and therefore it will be an asymmetrical relationship.” (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)