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Why Bangsamoro bill should

not pass
BBL DEBATE: I am taking the liberty of
quoting excerpts from an article of colleague
Bobi Tiglao of The Manila Times titled
“Bangsamoro Law: Have they lost their
minds?” to help fuel the debate that the
Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) bill filed in the
Congress deserves.

I happen to agree with what Bobi says in his


piece, excerpted below and slightly edited to
fit space:

* * *

BANGSAMORO: The proposed law will


dismember the Republic. It seeks to create a
“political entity” called “Bangsamoro,” which
is not under the Philippine Republic, but which
merely has — as the bill itself puts it — an
“asymmetric relationship” with it.

“Bangsa” is Malay for a nation-state. The


Spanish word “Moro” was the pejorative term
Spaniards, and even non-Muslim Filipinos,
probably up to the 1980s, called people of the
many ethnic groups in Mindanao under the
Muslim faith. The term originated from the
word Christians used for the Muslims who
conquered their Iberian homelands in the 8th
century.

The notion of a “Bangsamoro” was invented


by Moro National Liberation Front chairman
Nur Misuari in 1969 when he founded the
insurgent group and when Moro Islamic
Liberation Front forces were still with him. It
was his way of defying that Spanish label in
his attempt to invent a common identity for
the ethnic groups of Mindanao under Islam.

Yet the bill implies that a “Bangsamoro


people” had existed since pre-Spanish times,
that it is only fair to accede to their demand
for an “ancestral homeland and their right to
self-determination.”

It is the stupidity of President Aquino and his


negotiators, bordering on treason, to agree
with the creation of an artificial nation for the
“Moors” in Mindanao.

* * *

BASIC LAW: The BBL is their Constitution —


a synonym for “Basic Law” — that creates a
self-governing nation-state under the MILF.

The bill even has the solemnity of a


Constitution. Our Constitutionʼs Preamble:
“We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring
the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a
just and humane society, and establish a
Government….”

The Bangsamoro billʼs Preamble: “We, the


Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants of
the Bangsamoro, imploring the aid of the
Almighty.…”

Mimicking our Constitution, it goes on to


define the Bangsamoro territory (even its
waters, which stand “12 nautical miles from
the low-water mark of the coasts,” the
international prescription), the nation-stateʼs
General Principles and Policies, and its form of
government.

* * *

SECESSION: The Bangsamoro is an entirely


different creature from the “autonomous
regions in Muslim Mindanao and the
Cordilleras” which the Constitution allows as
forms of local government.

Instead, the BBL will set up practically an


independent state with “exclusive powers over
a long list of “matters” which a sovereign
nation normally exercises over, except for a
short list of matters over which “the Central
government has reserved powers,” mainly
defense and external security, foreign policy,
coinage and monetary policy, and postal
service.

This is also emphasized in the billʼs Article IV,


Section 1, a de facto declaration of
independence: “In the exercise of its right to
self-governance and self-determination, the
Bangsamoro is free to pursue its economic,
social and cultural development.”

What if the Bangsamoro decides to invoke the


section and secedes from the Republic, or to
ask Malaysia to incorporate it in its federation?

Is there a provision in the BBL to prevent this?


None at all. In fact, there isnʼt even a sentence
that Bangsamoro government officials
consider themselves Filipinos and swear
loyalty to our Constitution and Republic.

* * *

MILF GOVʼT: The Bangsamoro government


would be run by the 60-member Bangsamoro
Parliament, purportedly to be elected by “the
free choice of the people” through political
parties.

One would be extremely naïve not to believe


that it would be simply the MILF, by far the
most organized and biggest force in Muslim
Mindanao that would staff it. The MILFʼs
existing “Jihad Central Committee,” which
roughly has the same number of members,
could simply overlap with the Bangsamoro
Parliament.

The Parliament would elect the Bangsamoro


Cabinet, which would, in turn, choose the
governmentʼs chief executive called Chief
Minister — who would, Iʼd bet, be either the
current MILF chairman or vice chairman.

* * *

MILF ARMY: The BBL provides that the


Bangsamoro government shall have primary
responsibility over public order and safety
within the “Bangsamoro” and that a
“Bangsamoro Police” would be created for
this purpose.

This violates the Constitutionʼs provision that


“the State shall establish and maintain one
police force, which shall be national in scope
and civilian in character, to be administered
and controlled by a national police
commission.”

The BBL clumsily tries to go around this by


stipulating that a “Bangsamoro Police Board”
shall perform the functions of the National
Police Commission, and that “the board will
be part of the National Police Commission.”
Another provision empowers the Chief
Minister to have operational control over the
Bangsamoro Police.

The MILF army, in effect, will simply be


renamed the Bangsamoro Police, and the
MILF chairman who had commanded the army
will simply wear the robes of the
“Bangsamoro Chief Minister.”

* * *

SHARIʼAH LAW: The draft BBL has new


provisions favorable to the MILF that were not
even in the “Comprehensive Agreement on
the Bangsamoro,” or the peace pact that the
bill was supposed to merely implement.
Among these:

• “Article X, Section 1. The justice system in


the Bangsamoro shall consist of Shariʼah
[Islamic] law, which shall have supremacy and
application over Muslims only….” Contrast that
to Article IX, Section 1 of the ARMM law on
the justice system in that region: “The
Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and
other courts established by law shall continue
to exercise their judicial powers.”

In violation of the Constitutionʼs principle of


separation of Church and State, the BBL
specifies as sources of Shariʼah law, Al-Quran
and other Islamic religious texts Al-Sunnha,
Al-Qiyas, and Al-Jima.

• In capitulation to the MILF, the BBL requires


the national (central) government to appoint
Bangsamoro members to certain offices: “At
least one Cabinet secretary, at least one in
each department, offices and bureaus,
holding executive, primarily confidential
positions; and one commissioner in each of
the constitutional bodies.”

The MILF wants its cadres planted in


practically the entire bureaucracy. The Civil
Service Commission and the Commission on
Audit have only three members each,
including the chairmen. Under the BBL, one of
the three posts would be reserved to a
Bangsamoro member.

* * *

RESEARCH: Access past POSTSCRIPTs at


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