POSTSCRIPT / May 19, 2015 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Bangsamoro creation splits Catholic bishops

MALACAÑANG’S insistence on creating a Bangsamoro, the only would-be federal region in the republic, has proved to be so divisive that even the local Catholic hierarchy appears to be in disagreement over it.

Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has cast his lot with the “Peace Council” of President Noynoy Aquino pushing the Bangsamoro Basic Law replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with an expanded and vastly empowered Islamic entity.

Separately, a ranking member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines urges the Congress not to rush the enactment of the BBL, warning of possible complications in the creation of a federal nation for the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chair of the CBCP committee on public affairs, said President Aquino should not pressure lawmakers to rush the BBL’s approval before the Congress adjourns June 12.

No word has been heard from Cardinal Tagle since Malacañang announced his supposed support for the BBL. Neither has he showed up in public forums attended by Peace Council members.

For his part, Pabillo pointed out that achieving lasting peace in Mindanao is far more important than Aquino leaving BBL as his legacy. He praised lawmakers who refuse to give in to Malacañang pressure.

While the CBCP has not announced a collegial stand on BBL, Pabillo said: “Peace will never come out because of a piece of paper. It might even be complicated… Even if there is a written law, if it will not bring real and lasting peace, then that is not legacy. That will even put him (Aquino) in a bad light.”

• Solons need not consult Palace on BBL

WE AGREE that it is bad form for congressmen to scurry to Malacañang to discuss how to reword the Bangsamoro Basic Law draft to overcome the opposition of some 75 percent of Filipinos, including those questioning its constitutionality.

The bill submitted by the Executive branch is now in the Congress, a separate and independent department that we presume has brainpower superior to Malacañang, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the rebel group’s Malaysian patrons combined.

There is no need for congressmen to go back to the Palace in this critical period of amendments in the ad hoc committee chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, but there they were last Friday and Sunday for consultations.

Apparently lost is the notion that the creation of what would be the lone federal region in the republic to appease the 7,000-strong MILF is not a party or administration decision but a test of conscience for each representative of the people.

Our attempts to get the names of the congressmen who went with Rodriguez to Malacañang failed. Press Secretary Sonny Coloma said he was not in the meeting so he would not know who were present.

Sources at the House of Representatives would only say that the group included leaders of the parties in the pro-administration coalition, deputy speakers and vice chairs of the ad hoc committee of 75. The meeting apparently proved productive for those present.

• Rufus flip-flops on contentious sections

RODRIGUEZ went to Malacañang reportedly with a 144-page draft with at least eight provisions that he and other lawmakers had deemed unconstitutional marked for deletion in addition to another section on the “creeping expansion” of the Bangsamoro territory.

In yesterday’s meeting in the House, however, Rodriguez backtracked on his stand to delete the section that would allow areas contiguous to the Bangsamoro to opt for inclusion on the affirmative vote of 10 percent of its residents.

Majority of the committee voted down yesterday the motion to delete that part providing for an expansion of the Bangsamoro territory via a plebiscite five years after its establishment.

Some members said Rodriguez came with an edited draft that had been softened by the views of the Palace, pro-BBL congressmen, the presidential adviser on the peace process, and the MILF as exchanged during the Malacañang consultation.

A foreshadowing was Rodriguez saying: “Hopefully, there will be no more hitches, and the voting (Wednesday) will proceed on this second edition that modified the chairman’s draft.”

That draft included 125 proposed changes, including those put in by the pro-BBL faction in the committee. For easy reference the second draft reportedly carried both the unconstitutional sections and the compromise revisions suggested during the Palace meeting.

• Unilab marks 70th year in drug industry

THE FILIPINO pharmaceutical and healthcare giant Unilab, makers of household brands Biogesic, Ceelin, Neozep and Enervon, is celebrating its 70th year in the industry. It also marks this milestone with the launch of its corporate campaign, “Alam Namin,” through a digital film.

Unilab says it wishes, via the campaign, to recognize and thank the unsung heroes of everyday who embody Husay at Malasakit to their loved ones and the communities they serve, without expecting anything in return.

These are family members who make sure their loved ones get the best of everything. These are the parents who persevere to give a better life to their children, the physicians and healthcare professionals, the drugstore partners who make sure vital medicines are available when and where needed.

From a small corner drugstore, Unilab has grown to become the leading pharmaceutical and healthcare company in the country.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 19, 2015)

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