MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is not confident that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is allowed by the 1987 Constitution.
"Si Murad naman (Murad), in so many times, present and past, he would want to see me on a regular basis and talk about the progress of the BBL. I do not think that it will hurdle constitutional – binabasa ko paulit-ulit (I keep reading it repeatedly) – the constitutional barriers," said Duterte on Tuesday, December 19.
The President did not elaborate in his Tuesday speech which aspect of the BBL draft now with Congress goes against constitutional provisions.
But in his speech on December 13 at the PDP-Laban Christmas Benefit Dinner, Duterte spoke of how the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is making territorial claims.
"MI(LF) wants territory. If you do that, it does not fit in the rule of [the] Constitution, you have to amend the Constitution," the President had said.
In comparison, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari has not been clear about what he wants from the BBL.
"Nur Misuari bides his time. He does not claim any particular place, not even the southern islands. We are kept in the dark by Nur. We are friends but I could not make something very clear of his stand," Duterte had said.
Patience of MILF, MNLF
Before he remarked on the likelihood of the BBL hurdling constitutional provisions, Duterte had been talking about the Mindanao peace process, thanking the MILF and the MNLF for their patience.
"They've been waiting for a long time and they have been very patient. Me, I salute Nur for just being there, keeping wide," he said.
The peace process, he said, is the only option for the Mindanao region.
"It would do us well to really pursue talks with well-meaning [inaudible] functions of the Moro people and Mindanao because the other option is I do not even want to imagine how it would evolve itself before the public," said Duterte.
Despite the challenges ahead, Duterte said it's crucial for Mindanao's stability that the historical grievances of the Muslim separatist groups be addressed.
The draft of the BBL was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which included MILF and MNLF representatives.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.