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Bury that ‘Bangsamoro’ nonsense, it is an affront to the Republic

WHILE President Rodrigo Duterte had initially been supportive of the past Yellow Regime’s so-called “Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he said in a speech last month: “I do not think it will hurdle constitutional objections. Binabasa ko paulit-ulit… there are clear constitutional barriers.”

He is right, and I’m glad that unlike past presidents, this President isn’t that kind of egoist who refuses to change his mind, even in the light of better analysis and data.

The BBL is patently unconstitutional. The term is even a misnomer, as it was never passed into law. Former President Aquino 3rd’s attempt to railroad it into law was derailed because of public outrage against the Muslim insurgents who massacred 44 of the elite Special Forces soldiers in Mamasapano in 2015.

The Constitution’s Article X, Section 1 very categorically specifies that “the territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays (as well as the) autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.” No other kind of political entities , such as the “Bangsamoro” as defined in the BBL, are allowed.

Its Section 15 then specifies that these autonomous regions must be set up “within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

By no stretch of language could the “Bangsamoro” as described in the BBL be interpreted as the “Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

A sub-state
The late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who was the chair of the Senate’s Senate committee on constitutional amendments and the country’s foremost expert on the Constitution, saw through the Aquino administration’s deceptions over the BBL.

She claimed that the BBL aimed to create a sub-state that would be co-equal with the national government and in clear violation of the Constitution. “Changing its name doesn’t make it constitutional,” she said.

The BBL in fact is replete with at least 10 provisions that violate the Constitution, experts on constitutional law have pointed out.

One that would even be dangerous to the Republic’s security—and keep intact the Muslim insurgent’s armed force—is that the BBL provides for the creation of a Bangsamoro Police, formed from the MILF’s army, under the Bangsamoro government. Our Constitution, however, categorically provides that there can be “only one police force, which shall be national in scope and civilian in character, to be administered and controlled by a national police commission.”

With BBL, he thought he had the Nobel in the bag.

Even if the Constitution is amended to change our form of government to a federal system, the BBL will violate such new Constitution for one major reason: The Republic in any form cannot allow another state to be on equal level with it, or within a state, which the very concept of “Bangsamoro” presumes.

To even use the term “Bangsamoro” in a law and to designate a state-within-a-state is not only an affront to the Republic. It is plain stupid, borne out of ignorance of the Philippine Muslims’ history.

The term was not used even in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, which the then powerful Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi, arm-twisted the Marcos government into signing. The agreement called the entity to be set up only as “Autonomy in Southern Philippines,” changed in the 1987 Constitution to “Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

Moro state
“Bangsamoro”—meaning the “Moro state”—is a term invented by the Malaysian-trained leaders of the Moro National Liberation (MNLF). It mimicked the “Bangsa Malaysia” slogan in that country in the 1970s, and defiantly used what had been the Spanish and US colonizers’ pejorative term for the Muslims in Mindanao – “Moro”, a term derived by the Spaniards from the much-hated Muslim Moors that conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the 9th century. The term “basic law,” in reality refers to the “Constitution” that will establish the Bangsamoro.

The insistence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – which broke away from the MNLF to become the biggest Muslim insurgent group – to use the term “Bangsamoro” for the political entity it wants set up reveals their real intent: To create a separate Moro state.

It is astonishing that the MILF very nearly got the Republic—if not for the Mamasapano massacre—to enact a “Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

That it has been able to do so is a demonstration of the the Yellow Cult’s tremendous political and media power at the time. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, for instance, cheered Aquino for each of the steps he made to advance the BBL, and downplayed the criticisms against it, especially by then Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. who headed the Senate committee that studied it.

There were two major reasons why Aquino and his camp moved heaven and earth in its attempt to pass the BBL, which reveals this gang’s willingness to sacrifice the integrity of the Republic just to further its selfish interests.

Nobel Prize
First, Aquino had come to believe that if he passed the BBL, which was the main demand of the MILF to sign a peace pact with him, he, together with his closest officials on this issue—his adviser on the peace process, Teresita Quintos-Deles and chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer—would win the Nobel Peace Prize.

It was MILF cadres as well as Deles and Ferrer who convinced him that this goal could be achieved, which explains why he even broke protocol and met with its top leaders in Tokyo a year after he assumed office.

Second, the Yellow gang had calculated that passage of the BBL, and the consequent full support of the MILF would be a key strategy to ensure the victory of its presidential candidate in 2016, Mar Roxas.

In the 2010 elections, vice-presidential candidate Roxas lost to rival Jejomar Binay in the provinces that would form the Bangsamoro—or those in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindan. Binay got a huge 474,309 votes in this region; Roxas got only a third of that.

The Yellows calculated that if ARMM goes all out for Roxas, which it would do with the help (and arms) of the MILF and the passage of the BBL, the 720,000 votes for him in that region would push him to victory.

Some P10 billion in funds raised through the Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP) scheme was given to political leaders in the ARMM, ostensibly to undertake “peace projects” but which were in reality bribes for their support in the 2016 elections.

The Yellows of course could not have foreseen that the Mamasapano massacre would make passing of the BBL impossible, and a candidate from Mindanao would become so popular even in the Muslim areas that no amount of computer-assisted electoral cheating could create votes for Roxas. (It did though for their vice-presidential bet Leni Robredo.)

That candidate, Duterte, should bury BBL once and for all, and seek another way to get the MILF to lay down their arms and join the Republic.