MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said the ongoing review and possible amendment of the 1987 Constitution should fulfill aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, warning of war if the Muslim people’s concerns are not addressed.
Congress is currently tackling proposed changes to the Constitution, even as the 20-man consultative committee Duterte created to review the charter has just started its work.
Duterte and lawmakers have earlier expressed the desire to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the Constitution is revised. The law would grant greater autonomy to the Bangsamoro region as envisioned in the 2014 final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Even then, Duterte said the aspirations of the Bangsamoro should still be taken into consideration in the drafting of the new constitution.
“Ngayon kung may framework na ng federal [government], bago i-finalize iyan, ipasok natin ang gusto niyo,” Duterte said in a speech before a Muslim community in Lanao del Sur.
“Maranao region? Maguindanao region? Iranun? Kung ayaw niyo makipaghalo, eh ‘di kaniya-kaniyang region tayo.”
The President again stressed that failure to address Bangsamoro concerns might lead to more trouble in Mindanao.
Security experts and Moro leaders have warned that Islamist extremists, who last year waged a 5-month siege on Marawi City, might exploit a disgruntled Moro community in case the government fails to fulfill its promises to the region.
Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno earlier said one reason for the shift from a unitary to a federal form of government is "the need to accommodate the identity-based demands of our Muslim brothers and sisters."
The passage of the original version of the BBL during the previous administration was scuttled because of the January 2015 Mamasapano clash, where 44 elite police commandos were allegedly killed by MILF fighters and other private armed groups during an anti-terror raid.
It also faced questions on its constitutionality.