POSTSCRIPT / March 1, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Noy has a way out of BBL quagmire

WIGGLING OUT: Instead of needling President Noynoy Aquino with calls for him to resign, maybe we should help him sort out his confusion and thereby start finding our own deliverance.

The pressure for him to vacate the presidency came to a head after the Jan. 25 Mamasapano massacre that brought to the fore the perfidy of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the unconstitutional provisions in the Bangsamoro Basic Law that he has been pushing.

President Aquino has been maneuvered into going all-out for the BBL. His commitment has been deepened by his public statements and participation in “peace” rituals with foreign dignitaries present. It is difficult for him to wiggle out of the Bangsamoro quagmire.

Still, there must be a way out of the trap if he wants to find it.

* * *

MERCY KILLING: The BBL measure is already in the Congress, an independent branch. The President should leave the matter to the tender mercies of our senators and congressmen, and refrain from lobbying for or against it.

If the 16th Congress finds the BBL loaded against the Republic, a soft option is for them to dribble the ball, hold endless public consultations and debates till adjournment of the session, and allow the mercy killing of the tenuous measure.

If the bill fails to gain approval by adjournment — or is defeated outright in the final vote — that is no longer the President’s fault. He could heave a sigh of executive relief, at least before the MILF starts the fireworks.

He should not be disturbed by the MILF threat to revert to its revolutionary campaign if the BBL is not approved and executed as is. They imagine themselves cornering the government in an all-or-nothing encounter in the cornfield. That is just what they think.

* * *

WHICH VERSION?: If the Congress passes the BBL bill, it will be in either of two versions: (1) One hewing to the original copy submitted by the MILF-Malacañang panelists, or (2) The watered down version, washed of its unconstitutional and preposterous provisions.

The MILF has made known its desire to see the retention of the substantive portions they have written into the draft with the consent of the Malacañang panelists. They have hinted that approval of the watered down version could mean renewed hostilities.

Whichever of the two versions is passed, the President should play his part by signing it into law with the same pomp given its basis, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, when it was signed.

The President should also take the occasion to announce the dismantling of his varsity team of negotiators and his sending its two lady members on a well-deserved vacation to Kuala Lumpur where they had found sustenance and strength during the talks.

* * *

‘I TRIED’: If what is passed and signed into law is a close copy of the original draft, expect lawyers’ and citizens’ groups, as well as the usual publicity hounds, to question it before the Supreme Court.

The President should not attempt to influence the high court either way. The magistrates know what to do individually and collegially. It is bad form to even think of trying to influence an independent co-equal branch of government.

When, as expected, the court throws out the BBL as unconstitutional, the President can – without showing it – heave another sigh of executive relief.

As we said in an earlier script here, the President can then tell the MILF and its Malaysian handlers: “Don’t look at me. I tried. It’s the Supreme Court.”

* * *

CONSTITUTIONAL FALLBACK: The President should not show his lack of imagination or his inability to think outside the box by wringing his hands and asking: “But if not the BBL, what is the alternative?”

With due respect, Sir, there is a ready fallback — the Constitution, the same charter that mandated the establishment of two autonomous regions, one of which is the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Let us go back to the ARMM.

To give way to a suggestion from left field to create a Bangsamoro, President Aquino — unilaterally and without ample consultation – had pronounced the ARMM as a “failed experiment.”

If the ARMM, like many other neglected regions, is not meeting development targets, the proper remedial step, we think, is to find out why and then cure the defects. It has not been shown that the President, who has control over local governments, has done his due diligence on this.

Taking this constitutional step is better than summarily dropping the ARMM and embarking on an unlawful adventure now dividing the nation and threatening to carve out a separate federal state in the Republic.

* * *

2ND CLARK CUP: The Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) successfully launched last year the annual Clark Golf Cup at the Mimosa Golf & Country Club at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.

To sustain the series, CAMI will hold on March 27 the 2nd Clark Golf Cup that will blast off at the challenging Clark SunValley Country Club course beautifully laid out on the hilly west side of Clark. It is the same top-class course where many delegates to the APEC Senior Officials Meetings held in Clark who are golfers play.

The Clark Cup series is organized by CAMI, a 10-year-old body of Capampangan media practitioners, in cooperation with Clark Development Corp. and Donggwang Clark Corp. that operates Clark SunValley. It is intended to promote the sporting values of golf and raise funds for CAMI’s ongoing journalism-related projects.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 1, 2015)

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