POSTSCRIPT / February 15, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Don’t prolong agony: Pass BBL right away!

1-2-3 FORMULA: The nation lies in a cornfield bleeding. Let us not deal it the MILF coup de grâce of two lethal shots to the head.

But neither should we prolong the agony while giving an opening for anarchists to seize the chaotic moment. Partly in desperation, I reiterate something like this 1-2-3 process that I had previously suggested:

1. Ask the Congress to dispense with the usual rules and speedily pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law – as originally drafted, warts and all — without a separability clause.

2. Beg His Excellency, President Noynoy Aquino, to immediately sign it into law with top leaders of Malaysia, the United States and the usual accomplices witnessing the signing. Beam the momentous perfidy to the world.

3. Petition the Supreme Court to strike down the BBL as unconstitutional – just like it did to the MoA-Ancestral Domain pact before it, the Truth Commission, the Disbursement Acceleration Program, among other recent attempts to trifle with the Constitution.

The BBL carcass hauled away, President Aquino can then tell the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and his partners in Malaysia and the US: “Don’t look at me. I tried. It’s the Supreme Court.”

* * *

FATALLY FLAWED: With its defeat, supporters of the BBL need not feel a great loss. That deal was fatally flawed from the very beginning anyway. No major surgery can cure that.

Until and unless ratified by an act of the Congress and a proper plebiscite, that piece of paper signed with such pomp in the Palace never really committed the Philippine government as the parties tried to delude the public into thinking.

The original Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is a limited deal just between the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (not the wider community of Muslim Filipinos) and Malacañang (not the entire Philippine government.)

The MILF leaders went into the so-called peace talks by themselves and the Malacañang panel sat at the table representing simply the Executive department, or one-third of the government.

Both the MILF and Malacañang were misrepresenting themselves to each other, presuming to speak for other parties they never consulted beforehand or asked for authority to represent them.

It is only at this stage, after the fact, that Malacañang is stepping backward and sideways into consultation. Too late.

* * *

NATIONAL PLEBISCITE: Although legally wobbly, many of us insist on the need for a nationwide plebiscite, not just the regional plebiscite mentioned in the Constitution for the areas covered by the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Section 18, Article X, does not require a nationwide plebiscite. It says:“The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities and geographic areas voting favorably in such a plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region.”

In case the BBL debates progress despite the supervening Mamasapano event, we ask the creative legal minds in the Congress to find a way to require majority approval in a nationwide plebiscite.

As the uproar over BBL and Mamasapano issues has shown, the carving out of an expanded ARMM packaged as a Bangsamoro federal entity affects the entire national body politic.

The native saying goes: “Ang sakit ng kalingkingan randam ng buong katawan.” (The pain of the little finger is felt by the entire body).

Despite the ARMM experience — which President Aquino has declared to have been a “failed experiment” — the rest of the population must have a say if the MILF shall be given its own sub-state with the potential to spin off into a separate state.

* * *

REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE: Actually MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal has served notice of the consequences of the BBL not being approved, of their not being able to secure what they aspire for under the BBL.

In a statement dated Feb. 9 read for him before the Senate by Rasid Ladiasan, chair of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, Iqbal said: “Until the peace agreement is fully implemented, we will remain to be a revolutionary organization.”

Iqbal said. “The MILF is a revolutionary organization. While we may have signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government after 18 years of intermittent war and negotiations, that peace agreement has yet to be implemented.”

When he talked of implementation, Iqbal was presumed to be referring to their full enjoyment of the substance of the draft agreement signed with Malacañang.

Many observers in and outside the Senate took this to mean that if the MILF does not get what it wants, it or its splinter group will go back to “revolutionary” struggle.

Where will all this end? Nobody knows.

* * *

TELL THE TRUTH: It seems even President Aquino himself is no longer sure where all the turmoil is leading us.

Clue that he does not know yet is his silence after three long weeks on what really happened that bloody Sunday in Mamasapano. His silence, unfortunately, has given rise to all sorts of speculations that do not help calm the situation.

(But my guess is that he knows — the President should know — but does not know how much of it he should admit and may be afraid to say it.)

If asked, my advice (not order) will be: Mr. President, like your kid sister Kris, just tell the whole truth. Aminin na ang katotohanan. Don’t worry about how history will judge you. We have no control over that.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 15, 2015)

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