Bongbong Marcos to file new Bangsamoro bill
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – It's official. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr rejects the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) submitted to Congress.
“Unfortunately, the BBL in its present form and substance will not bring us any closer to peace. Instead, it will lead us to perdition. Armed conflict will ensue. Blood will be shed. And when blood is shed, it will not distinguish between right and wrong; between young and old, neither between men and women, nor soldiers or rebels, combatants and civilians, rich, poor, Muslims, Christians. Nobody wins. Everybody loses,” Marcos said a privilege speech delivered Wednesday, June 3.
In an interview with reporters afterwards, Marcos said he will file a substitute bill that is substantially different from the original version submitted to Congress.
He will write the new version during the session break. Senate President Franklin Drilon earlier moved the deadline to pass the law to October after it became apparent that majority of senators find it unconstitutional.
“Mr. President, I repeat: I am for peace. I share our people’s thirst for peace. Pero napakarami pong mga masamang probisyon na napapaloob sa BBL at kung tatanggalin ko pong isa-isa, baka maski kahit anong retoke ang gawin, hindi makayang maibalik sa dating anyo ang BBL (There are many bad provisions in the BBL and if I remove them one by one, no matter retouching is done, the original form of the BBL can't be retained),” Marcos said in his speech.
Marcos blamed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). He said the agency "totally ignored the major stakeholders" in the peace process, including the Sultanate of Sulu, rebel group Moro National Liberation Front, Lumads or indigenous people, Christians, local government officials and businesses.
The proposed Bangsamoro basic law implements the peace deal between the government and rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed in March 2014 after 17 years of negotiations.
It seeks to create an autonomous government in Muslim Mindanao that is parliamentary in form, with greater powers and resources.
OPAPP earlier released a position paper detailing all 553 consultations that were conducted during the peace process under the Aquino administration. However, it is not clear how much of what was proposed during the consultations were taken up in the peace table or the crafting of the law.
The 15-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which crafted the first draft of the BBL submitted to Malacañang for review, also conducted about 700 consultations.
During the final public hearing conducted at the Senate Wednesday, officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao reiterated their support for the Bangsamoro bill but mayors and governors from select provinces in and out of the proposed region expressed varied opposition to it.
Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan, said "they do not only want consultation" but also "participation." His son, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II said the ARMM should just be amended and all the funds granted under the Bangsamoro bill given to it.
Marcos also echoed the position of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago that the proposed bill is unconstitutional and needs charter change to be passed into law.
Marcos said the Bangsamoro creates a "state within a state" and cited the following reasons for the bill's unconstitutionality:
- BBL provides for a parliamentary form of government within a presidential form of government
- BBL seeks to impose limitations to the power of Congress. The Bangsamoro Parliament would be equal, not subordinate, to our Congress.
- Exclusive powers given to Bangsamoro will diminish sovereignty of the Republic.
- BBL has no power to create “Bangsamoro territory”
Aside from constitutional issues, Marcos also raised objections over the following features of the proposed Bangsamoro government:
- The provision that allows areas contiguous to the Bangsamoro to join the plebiscite for possible inclusion with a petition from 10% of registered voters
- Possible conflicting rights and claims over "exclusive" and "internal" bodies of water, like the Sulu Sea and Lake Lanao
- Co-equal rights of indigenous peoples, as well as the Royal houses and sultanates
- business and economic implications of the BBL on the Bangsamoro territory, adjacent LGUs and the wider Mindanao community
- The Bangsamoro's taxing authority, which he said "can be susceptible to double taxation"
- Operational control of the Bangsamoro chief minister over the Bangsamoro police, a power already devolved under RA 9054
- The impact on other LGUs of the "evolving policy" on the devolution of powers to local governments
- Energy implications in Bangsamoro territory and the entire Mindanao
- Creation of "separate" Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit and Civil Service Commission. Under the bill, these bodies will continue to be part of the national constitutional bodies but will have autonomous functions
- Implications on previous peace agreements. Marcos' father, former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr signed the Tripoli Agreement on 1976 with the MNLF
He ended his speech with a tribute to the 44 elite cops who died in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, a known MILF bailiwick, on January 25 during the operation to capture wanted terrorists Abdul Basit Usman and Zulkifli bin Hir, otherwise known as Marwan. At least 18 MILF combatants and 5 civilians also died in the clash.
Public outcry over the clash led to a political fallout that eroded support for the bill.
On Friday, June 5, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara issued a statement supporting Marcos' plan to file a substitute Bangsamoro bill.
"Even Malacanang has come to terms with the reality that Congress cannot reasonably be expected to be a rubber stamp. We value the expertise and the work done so far on the BBL, but both houses of Congress have the proper mandate to tackle the bill. Having said that, we hope to come up with an improved version," Angara said.
It was during the regime of Marcos' father, Marcos Sr, when the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao erupted.
Then University of the Philippines Professor Nur Misuari formed the MNLF after Muslim recruits were massacred in Corregidor Island to cover up a botched plot to reclaim Sabah. Only one survivor managed to escape the Jabidah Massacre.
Watch Marcos' privilege speech below as uploaded on his Youtube account:
For more stories and conversations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Mindanao peace process, visit #ProjectMindanao.
#ProjectMindanao is a platform for meaningful conversations and informed action that we hope would lead to a better understanding of the conflict in Mindanao and why we need not only to promote peace but sustain it.