Bangsamoro Law triggered resurgence of moves for federal government, say advocates

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 December) – Some provisions in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law have fueled moves to push for federalism in the country, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said.

Speaking during the Mindanao Leader Summit, Duterte said that with the “privileges” given to the Bangsamoro, it was also time for the rest of the country to ask what is due them through a shift to a federal form of government.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte pushes for a federal form of government during the Mindanao Leaders Summit on Monday (December 2) in Davao City. At the same time, he rejects calls for him to run for president in 2016. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte pushes for a federal form of government during the Mindanao Leaders Summit on Monday (December 2) in Davao City. At the same time, he rejects calls for him to run for president in 2016. Mindanews Photo by Keith Bacongco

One of the provisions he cited is the wealth sharing arrangement between the Bangsamoro and the national government.

Duterte said a federal form of government would help address the unrest in Mindanao, which he blamed on inequitable sharing of wealth and resources.

“Ang mga hinanakit lang naman ng mga taga-Mindanao ay makukuha nila kung ano dapat sa kanila,” (The cudgel of the people of Mindanao is simply to get what they deserve) he said.

Reuben Canoy, an old-time advocate of federalism, said that the pending BBL would allow the Bangsamoro government to get 75% of all its revenues.

“If approved, the revenue-sharing arrangement would be clearly unjust to other regions and makes it all the more imperative to federalize the government so that all regions—whether Lumad, Christian or Muslim, whether Tagalog, Ilocano or Visayan—will be on equal footing as Filipinos.”

“If approved, the revenue-sharing arrangement would be clearly unjust to other regions and makes it all the more imperative to federalize the government so that all regions—whether Lumad, Christian or Muslim, whether Tagalog, Ilocano or Visayan—will be on equal footing as Filipinos.”

Former North Cotabato governor Emmanuel Pinol, one of the summit organizers, cited the case of Palawan, which “has to go to court for its share of the Malampaya natural gas.”

“But with the mere stroke of a pen, hundreds of millions go to big name politicians close to the powers that be,” Pinol said.

Federalism advocates gathered in the city on Monday for the First Mindanao Leaders Federalism Summit, which was attended by at least 300 people coming from different parts of the country.

Many of them were incumbent local government officials, former politicians, retired ranking military and police officials, representatives from civil society organizations and religious groups.

Duterte, on the other hand, said he was hoping the BBL could hurdle questions on its constitutionality which may be filed before the Supreme Court once it is approved by Congress and signed into law by the President.

If the BBL fails, he said, it will be a failed dream for everybody, adding it could lead to further conflict in Mindanao.

During the House public hearing on the BBL in Iligan City last Friday, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon warned that rejecting the BBL could mean “more death and destruction” in Mindanao.

Duterte said the proposed Bangsamoro already serves as a catalyst for federalism in the country.

“Binigay na kasi nila sa Bangsamoro. Hihingiin din yan ng Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), ng mga Ilocano, ng mga Bikolano, at iba pa.” (They have given it to the Bangsamoro. The CAR, Ilocanos, Bicolanos and others will also ask for it.)

He further disclosed that he already had the support of the leaders of the Nur Misuari and Muslimin Sema factions of the Moro National Liberation Front.

Not for presidency

During the summit, Duterte dismissed rumors that the resurgence of the federalist movement in the country was a prelude to his rumored bid for the presidency.

Several groups have been urging the mayor to run for president in the 2016 elections.

“I belong to the other side, where we only advocate for this federalism without going into politics,” he said, adding he did not want his intentions to be misconstrued.

He assured that his campaign for federalism is a peaceful one and will not eventually lead to Mindanao independence.

“Mine is I’m trying to save Mindanao from being fractured,” he said alluding to apprehensions what could happen if the BBL fails.

He said the Bangsamoro government is just part of the solution to the problems in Mindanao. “But we have to take care of the Lumads and other sub-tribes in Mindanao.”

“Those who are pushing for me in the social media account are just protest votes because of the problem on law and order. It must be because I’m very vocal of what I’m doing here in my city.”

Duterte reiterated before the crowd that he was not interested in the presidency, saying he did not have the resources. “I do not covet it.”

‘Timely summit’

In the same forum, retired Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, chair of the Bishops Ulama Conference, urged for the immediate shift to a federal form of government as the current government is “incompetent” and “morally bankrupt.”

He called the summit timely and said somebody should lead and actively push for the movement for federalism.

“If changing the present constitution for federalism is morally important, relevant and urgent, who would call for a national convention and supervise it freely and democratically? Is it the present government, which has been accused of rampant corruption and declared morally bankrupt?”

Capalla also asked whether people were also obligated to “peacefully demand and compel” present officials to relinquish their power given that the unitary form has been “abused and misused.”

“If peaceful departure of high officials of the present government is not carried out in soonest possible time, does this non-action by the people not appear approving of scandalous wrongdoing?”

He also demanded that government officials appear before those who were “visibly suffering, dying as unnecessary victims of poverty.”

The archbishop said support for a federal form of government would assure the “adequate and humane promotion of the common good …these are the two moral objectives according to the teachings of the second Vatican Council.”

He said that the formation of a federal government should also abide by the moral values of self-nourishment, self-sustenance, and self-governance.

But Capalla admitted he did not know the specifics of shifting to federalism. “All I know from common sense is that a national objective is easily and effectively seen when the federated regions continue separately and independently in the process.

Capalla clarified he was expressing a personal opinion and his view did not reflect the stand of either the Catholic church or the BUC.

Con-Con

Randolph Parcasio, who sat in the MNLF peace panel called on Congress to call for a constitutional convention.

Parcasio called the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) a “failed experiment,” with the national government failing to implement the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

A councilor representing the indigenous peoples in Davao City yesterday said the sector he represents is also advocating for federalism.

Councilor Berino Mambo-o, an Ata from Paquibato district who represents the indigenous peoples in the city council, urged Duterte to lead the federalist movement.

“The indigenous peoples dream of federalism, too,” Mamboo said, adding it would benefit them if governance was more localized, even if there was already assistance coming from government and non-government organizations.

He said health and other social services were lacking in the city’s far-flung areas like Paquibato and Marilog. (Keith Bacongco/MindaNews)

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