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BANGSAMORO FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN MINDANAO

BANGSAMORO FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN MINDANAO

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BANGSAMORO FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN MINDANAO

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boholano-thumbby Jose “Pepe’ Abueva

The Mamasapano massacre on January 25. As we well know this killed 44 PNP-SAF commandos, 18 Muslims, and five civilians. And it has raised doubts about the practicality and wisdom of passing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
This historic innovation is the outcome of some 17 years of bloody rebellion and the painstaking quest for peace by the National Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, with the help of Malaysia and several international peace-makers.
The MILF has been earnestly cooperating with the Aquino administration and its peace panel in various ways, demonstrating MILF’s sincerity and seriousness in peace-building and establishing the Bangsamoro. Unfortunately, Director Napeñas who led the Exodus attack in Mamasapano refused to coordinate with the MILF, the Armed Forces, and the President’s peace panel that had long been negotiating and coordinating with the MILF. The President is criticized for depending on General Purisima, the suspended head of the National Police, in the Exodus venture. And Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government and General Espina who heads the PNP were excluded.
Bangsamoro is to be a model for a future Federal-Parliamentary Democracy. Bangsamoro is designed to be a truly autonomous region that is highly decentralized and devolved—endowed with greater political power, authority, and resources than any other region in our country.
As a sub-state like that in a federal republic, Bangsamoro will enable the people in the region to achieve its political, economic, social, and cultural development. Bangsamoro would attract more investments from other parts of Mindanao, the Visayas, and Luzon, as well as internationally. The minority Catholics and indigenous peoples in Bangsamoro will share in the benefits of their autonomous region.
Moreover, Bangsamoro is designed to have a ministerial or parliamentary form of government, unlike our traditional presidential government with its paralyzing separation of powers and discouragement of building effective and accountable political parties.
Indeed, the experience to be gained in Bangsamoro can demonstrate to all other Filipinos the untried and still unknown benefits of a federal-parliamentary democracy.
Many leaders in Mindanao have long initiated reforms toward a federal-parliamentary government without success. Among them are the leaders of the Citizens Movement for a Federal Philippines, like the late Rey Magno Teves and Lito Lorenzana, and Senator Aquilino Pimentel who filed a bill to amend our Constitution.
During the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, she initiated reforms toward a parliamentary government and a federal republic by the Consultative Commission on Charter Change. Regional consultations were held nationwide but the opposition Senate blocked the move toward a parliamentary government. And the vigorous attempt to amend the Constitution through the People’s Initiative failed because the Supreme Court obstructed it by a vote of 8 against it and seven in favor.
President Aquino III has asked Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law by June. It had taken at least five years to negotiate the formulation of the proposal.
The pleas of Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo. Amid the resistance to this due to the Mamasapano tragedy, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo urged the people, particularly the Christians, “to reject biases and prejudices toward Muslims—including the MILF—in order to appreciate the overall constitutional principle that governs the proposed” Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The Cardinal has lived in Mindanao for over 30 years.
The Cardinal believes in the constitutionality of the measure which was insired by Catholic moral principles and Christian values. He said: “In the face of outrage and calls for an all-out war for the manner by which our law-enforcers their lives, I call for peace. I call for rationality rather than emotionalism. I call for justice that is not selective. I call for openness and fairness rather than bias and prejudice.”
Cardinal Quevedo cited some totally wrong convictions because of emotions, biases, and prejudice. “We hear ourselves say, we cannot trust the Moros. We cannot trust the MILF. We cannot trust them to lay down their arms, we cannot trust them with the money they need for development, we cannot trust them to go after terrorists one they have their own government, we cannot trust them to practice democracy, we cannot trust them to govern well. We simply cannot trust them.”
Assurances. The Cardinal argued that under the proposed BBL “will be exercised within a limited territory under the sovereignty of the Philippines. Hence national sovereignty and territorial integrity will be preserved, contrary to the qualms of critics.”
“The overall principle that governs the BBL is th Catholic moral and social principle of subsidiarity, a principle already enshrined in our own Constitution. The principle requires the intervention of the national government and its various entities when the common good of all requires it. Therefore no entity of Bangsamoro government, such as a Bangsamoro auditing department or police force is absolutely independent of their national ccounterparts.”

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