MANILA - The proposed Bangsamoro law has reached the Senate floor after Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. introduced a bill that he called the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
According to Marcos, his inspiration for carrying the bill from the committee to the plenary was the heroism of the 44 troopers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) who were killed in Mamasapano last January 25.
"Peace is in the soul of our nation. It is what our heroes, the brave SAF 44 and so many before them, fought and gave their last breath to achieve. We must not fail them. We must not fail those they left behind," he said.
Marcos, however, put a stop to what may seem to be already an approval of the measure.
He said changes have to be made to safeguard the country's sovereignty and protect other people's interests.
In his sponsorship speech, he enumerated eight integral and important points for senators to consider before passing a historical bill that may change the lives of people in Mindanao forever.
He mentioned the primacy of the Constitution; the autonomy of local government units that should not be diminished; principle of check and balance; funding that should be left at the hands of Congress; peace and security at the hands of PNP; ensuring all groups are represented in all aspects of governance; establishment of a normalization process; and no to an independent state.
"The history of armed struggle of a number of our Muslim brothers with the latest formation of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), reveals that the struggle to establish a separate and independent state in that portion of our country remains a concern. It should therefore be clear that the proposed basic law will never be a vehicle for the establishment of an independent state," he said.
But Marcos said he is unsure if there is enough time to pass the bill under the Aquino administration.
The debates alone may take at least six weeks, he noted.
The filing of candidacy by October, the national budget deliberation, and the campaign period next year may also come in the way.
"Kung hindi nangyari ang Mamasapano that we have to suspend hearings for two months, hindi sana ganito... Maaaring sa susunod na administrasyon na ito, ang Palasyo lang naman ang nagsasabing maipapasa ito," he said.
What's important, Marcos said, is that both sides must be willing to wait to achieve the long sought peace in Mindanao.
But whether this would be acceptable to the leadership of the MILF is another story.