DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Sulu civil society leaders and other Moro groups said they did not share Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II’s stance against the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“Being a Bangsamoro, a Tausug from Sulu, I would say, I am also free to counter any act of Governor Tan,” Hadjinur Tingkasan, a Sulu Peace Advocate, said Monday, November 12.
Tingkasan said Tan and his father and namesake should have respected the outcome of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), adding that it was the result of long negotiations with the government.
Tingkasan said contrary to Tan’s view, he believed that the BOL “will bring genuine peace in the region,” adding that it was the last chance for the Moro people to better their lives.
“It was more than 40 years of struggle of the Bangsamoro people, including the one led by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in 1968, who is also a Tausug,” he added.
Professor Octavio Dinampo, another Tausug, described Tan’s petition before the Supreme Court as not only misguided but misleading and dishonest as well.
“It says the province of Sulu, it did not say the provincial government of Sulu. The provincial government can only represent the provincial governor but not the entire Sulu province,” Dinampo, the spokesperson of the Save Sulu Movement, said.
Dinampo said he was inclined to believe that Tan’s action was geared at the “preservation of his family’s power.”
“He preempted the Tausugs,” he added.
Tan had filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition against the BOL, saying it violated Sections 15 and 18, Article X of the Constitution, which said that only provinces and cities voting favorably for an autonomous region shall be part of it.
“Obviously, the manner of voting in the plebiscite as one geographical area provided in the Article XV of the BOL is but a scheme to ‘short-cut’ ratification and undermine the Constitution, all for the sole gain and benefit of respondent MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” he said in the petition.
Tan also added that the abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which is prescribed by the BOL, was unconstitutional if the 1987 Constitution was not amended first.
He doubted that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region’s form of government adheres to the Constitution, citing that under Section 2, Article VII of the BOL, the parliament shall be the seat of power which will have the authority to enact laws.
Tan said as executive authority will be exercised by the Cabinet, led by a chief minister who shall be elected by a majority vote of all the members of parliament, the separation of powers guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution was also violated.
“Under this parliamentary set-up, the powers of Parliament (legislative branch), and those of the Cabinet (executive branch), are not separate but, in fact, fused. This is contrary to the requirement under the Constitution that the structure of the government for each of the autonomous regions should consist of the executive department and the legislative assembly, compliant with the doctrine of separation of powers embodied in the Constitution,” he said.
Tan also said the manner of voting in the Chief Minister also violated the people’s right to suffrage as they will not directly participate in it.
“The Chief Minister, who heads the executive department, is merely chosen by members of the parliament among themselves. As a result, the right of the people to elect the head of the executive branch of the Bangsamoro Government is not recognized,” Tan added in his petition.
Joe Akmad, a civil society leader from North Cotabato, said he was wary about the impact of a Supreme Court decision favorable to Tan.
“Once the Supreme Court issues a Temporary Restraining Order or TRO, I am afraid war will once again erupt in Mindanao like what had happened with the junking of MOA-AD in 2008. It will really worsen the situation in Mindanao,” Akmad warned.
Other groups also took to the Supreme Court their move to block Tan’s petition.
On November 6, the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO) filed a counter petition and asked the SC to junk Tan’s petition. – Rappler.com