No guarantee BBL will counter extremism in Mindanao - analyst

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2018 05:31 PM | Updated as of Feb 09 2018 05:46 PM

MANILA - While it may address extremism in southern Philippines, there is no guarantee that passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) might resolve the lingering problem, an analyst said Friday.

"It may be because it’s a good narrative, it may compete with the narrative that is going on [on] the ground, but there’s no guarantee for the simple reason that even the President himself, during the big assembly of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), never mentioned BBL," Mindanao-based scholar and longtime peace advocate Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr. told ANC's Early Edition.

"He mentioned the parameters of BBL, sabi niya ‘I cannot deliver that because it’s against the Constitution’… Immediately, maisip mo na mahihirapan itong maging counter-narrative, kaya medyo nanghina ang loob nila sa assembly," he said.

Mercado said extremist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Dawlah Islamiyah, with which Islamic State-linked Maute fighters are connected, were "protest movements against [the] established one."

"Abu Sayyaf, sabi nila, rose from the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front, and itong Dawlah Islamiyah, nag-emerge din because of the dissatisfaction sa agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front," he said.

"It’s an opposition to the agreement, meaning they want more. The agreement does not satisfy 'yung kanilang desires and opposition, that’s why they go for Islamic State," he said.

Mercado said propagandists for extremist movements say ordinary constituents remain in their state, while the lives of those who negotiated with the government "prosper and move forward."

"Ito ang narrative ngayon ng extremists. Samantalang itong extremists, they die. For example the one in Marawi, they are martyrs, they died for the people, for the cause," he said, in reference to extremists that battled it out with state troops in Marawi City last year. 

President Rodrigo Duterte last month asked the Moro people for more time for government to pass and enact the BBL even as he bared that Moro rebels are threatening to go to war if the measure is not passed.

The measure aims to enact the peace compact signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014. A version of the bill under the previous administration had failed to pass because of provisions viewed to be unconstitutional. 

The President, who had vowed to pass the BBL during his presidential campaign, said there are still provisions in the current version that may violate the 1987 Constitution but may be remedied by shifting into a federal form of government.

Duterte earlier pledged to ask Congress to hold a special session for the passage of the BBL and has also appointed 19 members of a consultative body on charter change.