Better Bangsamoro law seen if passed after federal shift

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2018 02:15 PM

MANILA - A member of the Malacañang committee drafting a new constitution on Friday floated the “best scenario” of enacting a new Bangsamoro law only after the country shifts to federalism.

A Bangsamoro Basic Law ratified under a federal constitution will ensure a “more comprehensive and more realistic” piece of legislation that will also be “more responsive to the demand for self-rule and genuine autonomy,” said lawyer Randolph Parcasio.

“Federalism opens up the window for the full expression of the right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro people,” he told ANC’s Early Edition.

Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said they were open to federalism, but insisted the BBL should be passed ahead of a federal shift.

The BBL will implement the government’s 2014 peace agreement with the MILF, carving a new territory for the Bangsamoro run by a ministerial government.

President Rodrigo Duterte has committed to fully implement the MILF accord as well as the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), from which the MILF broke away in the late 70s.

Three issues remain unresolved, including wealth sharing over strategic minerals, in the MNLF agreement.

The MILF is facing its own challenges over alleged constitutional infirmities in portions of the draft BBL, a concern also raised by some consultative committee members earlier this week.

Different versions are still under deliberation in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

ONE MINDANAO STATE

Passing the BBL under a federal constitution “could address, not only those empowerment provisions that are not incorporated even in the BBL, as well as provisions enshrined in the 1996 peace agreement,” said Parcasio, who heads the MNLF panel implementing the 1996 accord.

But while the MILF is focused on a new Bangsamoro territory based in its peace accord, the MNLF faction of Nur Misuari is fully backing Duterte’s federal option. 

Parcasio cited the MNLF proposal for one Mindanao state under which a new Bangsamoro autonomous region could be established.

“It won't be a hard sell,” he said. “This right to self-determination and the desire to empower themselves to determine their political status and effective delivery of public service, the people of Mindanao are one regardless of tribes, regardless of religion.”

Asked about concerns that a federal setup could lead to possible secession, especially in Mindanao, he said: “The threat of secession will always be there for as long as the so-called Bangsamoro problem is not addressed.”

“The Bangsamoro problem is precisely the annexation of Mindanao to the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris and under the 1935 Constitution,” he said.

“If that problem is not addressed, I fear that we cannot solve the so-called Mindanao problem... (which is) the unjust and unfair annexation of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan to the Philippines.”

The MNLF proposal includes separate states for Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Metro Manila, and the Visayas.