DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /23 April) — A Moro civil society leader said the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) needs to be passed “not later than two years from now” in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), to allow for the establishment of the new Bangsamoro political entity that can be the pilot project for the shift to a federal form of governemnt.
Guiamel Alim, executive director of Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) told a press conference here Friday that the BBL has to be passed within this period as the CAB provides for a transition period of at least one year for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that would prepare for the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
IN TWO YEARS. Guiamel Alim, executive director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society tells a press conference on 22 April at the Ateneo de Davao University that the Bangsamoro Basic Law needs to be passed “not later than two years from now” in accordance with the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
Under the CAB, the ARMM is deemed abolished upon the ratification of the BBL. The BTA then takes over until the first elected officials in the Bangsamoro political shall have assumed their post during the inauguration of the new Bangsamoro political entity.
Congress adjourned on February 3 without passing the BBL, paving the way for the holding of elections in the ARMM on May 9. Under the law, each ARMM administration has a three-year term of office. The next ARMM election is in May 2019 if the next Congress does not pass the BBL again.
A reporter asked if the peace groups that gathered here for a symposium dubbed “TItayan: Bridging for Peace” (Inclusive Political Transitions in the Bangsamoro) are planning to make a barangay as a pilot project for the implementation of the CAB.
Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando Quevedo said there are candidates who are advocating federalism “but federalism is a long-term project“ as it involves amending the 1987 Constitution.
PILOT. Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, tells a press conference at the Ateneo de Davao University on 22 April that federalism is “a long-term project“ as it involves amending the 1987 Constitution but
the Bangsamoro which is going to adopt a parliamentary system of government, can be a pilot project. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
“What we would like is begin with a pilot project – not a barangay – but the Bangsamoro territory. If it succeeds, then perhaps all the others would say ‘ah dapat ganyan, more power more autonomy sa mga provinces… we hope that this will happen,” Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato and lead convenor of Friends of Peace, said.
The proposed Bangsamoro is adopting a parliamentary system of government.
Alim said the shift to federalism may not come soon. “I don’t think that will happen very soon.. it will take time before we can change the Constitution.”
But he said the idea of making the Bangsamoro region as an example is possible “because you know the system that is being adopted in the CAB is more of a federal type of government.. than presidential.”
“If this works then we can improve on it, if this is the way we think can help the country. But for now, federalism is only in the mind. There are so many things to consider in adopting federalism,” he said: geographical cohesion and competence of l local government units (LGUs).
“What are the geographical boundaries in creating these federal states. Two is the competence of LGUs without which we will be creating only a layer of bureaucracy like what is happening today,” Alim said.
He explained that the ARMM is merely a layer of bureaucracy between the national government and the local government units (LGUs). “This is a government that has no oversight over LGUs and so it is an intermediary organization, not helping so much and I think this is why the (phrase) ‘failed experiment’ was coined because it is not responding positively to the needs on the ground.”
The lone Presidential candidate advocating a change in the system of government from the present unitary, Presidential form to a federal system is Presidential frontrunner and Davao city Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
In his visit to the MILF’s Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao morning of February 27 and in his rally in Cotabato City in the afternoon, Duterte said that if he wins the Presidency, he would push for the passage of the BBL and make the Bangsamoro an example for the rest to follow under a federal system of government.
At the MILF camp, Duterte told MILF officials led by Ghazali Jaafar that he would convene a Constitutional Commission to amend the 1987 Constitution to change the system of government into federalism but “if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.”
At the Cotabato City plaza, Duterte said there is a need to correct the historical injustices committed against the Moro people and vowed that under his administration, “we will try to go federalism.”
“Yang Bagsamoro sa mapa ngayon, wag nang galawin yan. Gawin na lang nating example na makopya sa lahat. Ang mangyayari nito, uunahin ko na lang pakiusapan ko ang Congress na we will pass the BBL (The Bangsamoro on the map now, let’s not touch that anymore. Let’s make it an example for the rest to copy. I will immediately ask Congress to pass the BBL).
He said he will also tell Nur Misuari “kopyahin na lang natin sila para sa Mindanao at buong Pilipinas” (let’s copy that for Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines”). Misuari, whom Duterte considers a friend, is founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with whom government signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 and whose implementation has yet to be fully completed.
The Friends of Peace had earlier invited Presidential candidates to a dialogue on their peace agenda. Duterte confirmed attendance to the February 12 “Conversations with Presidential Candidates on the Bangsamoro Peace Process” at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City. Duterte, however, fell ill during an engagement in Manila the afternoon before and was advised by doctors to rest. He sent his City Administrator, Melchor Quitain.
Quevedo told the “Titayan” symposium on April 21 that administration bet Mar Roxas met with the Friends of Peace in Cotabato City on March 31 and talked about continuing the peace agenda of the Aquino administration.
He said Senate President Franklin Drilon, who accompanied Roxas, said they will pass a BBL “different from the House or the Senate” versions that they deliberated on “within 360 working days” from the start of the next administration.
Drilon is seeking reelection.
Quevedo said there were schedule problems in the “Conversations” with the other Presidential candidates – Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Grace Poe. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)