It should not take another Aquino—Fr. Ranhilo Aquino (no relation to the president)—to pinpoint the perversion of governance under the presidency of Benigno BS Aquino 3rd. But it was Father Rannie who came closest to the truth when he opined in August last year that PNoy has “a gangster concept of democracy.”
The outburst was provoked when the president challenged and threatened the Supreme Court after it ruled decisively against his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in July last year.
Explaining his point, Fr Aquino wrote:
“[Aquino]has always thought of himself as above law, above criticism and above fault because he has always been able to count on the adulation of the multitudes. In other words, this pathetic excuse for a President has a ‘gangster’ conception of democracy. As long as his gang is numerous enough to silence all opposition, ‘the king can do no wrong.’ “
Ramming the BBL bill through Congress
That gangsterism is now again on display in his efforts to ram through Congress the patently unconstitutional, foolhardy and dangerous Bangsamoro BasicLaw (BBL) bill as written by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF] and Malacañang with help from Malaysia.
With the aged Speaker Feliciano Belmonte serving as his Capo (mafia term for captain), PNoy has tendered the members of Congress an offer they cannot refuse – a big signing bonus Those in danger of prosecution for misusing their pork barrel will be spared from prosecution.
Like the movie mogul in the movie “The Godfather” who found the severed head of his prize horse in his bed, the members of the ad hoc committee hearing the Bangsamoro bill have promptly caved.
Speaker Belmonte will now move swiftly to have the BBL bill debated and approved by the entire House before June11, when Congress is set to adjourn.
The bill will then be passed on to the Senate, where another capo, Senate President Franklin Drilon, is itching to get the baton and herd the senators to approve the measure. But here the project faces a big problem in Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who chairs the Senate committee that is reviewing the measure and will finalize the draft bill for debate by the Senate.
In a statement last Tuesday, Marcos called on the Palace to desist from setting a deadline for Congress to approve the bill.
Betrayal of the national interest
The events unfolding in Congress because of the BBL bill have obscured public perception of the fundamental defects of the proposed BBL, and the even more fundamentally defective Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which is supposed to be the reason why there should be a Bangsamoro and a Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Jemy Gatdula of the School of Law and Governance at the University of Asia and the Pacific has spelled out clearly and persuasively the reasons why Congress must not pass the BBL. Jemy is a lawyer and law professor, and his field of specialization is international law, which he studied at Cambridge University.
Gatdula’s case against the Bangsamoro project can be summarized as follows:
1. A close reading of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the present drafts of the Bangsamoro Basic Law leads to only one rational conclusion: They are not in the interest of the Philippines.
2. The CAB effectively serves to provide a legal cover to the MILF’s claim for statehood. The BBL then supplies the resources and implementing wherewithal to carry out that claim. Mohagher Iqbal is a very able negotiator indeed. And Miriam Coronel-Ferrer is a fool.
3. Under the CAB, all four international law elements of a State have been granted to the Bangsamoro: namely, people, government, territory and the capacity to enter into international agreements.
These elements are spelled out in specific provisions of the CAB.
4. In addition, the CAB also provides police powers, taxation, and eminent domain. It even gave executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. At this point, for the Philippines to refuse “recognition” to the Bangsamoro is inutile. Nothing is stopping the MILF from declaring anytime that they are now the “Bangsamoro” State. No recognition is required from other States (as recognition is not an element for Statehood).
5. The Philippine government, by agreeing to terms in the CAB like “armed conflict”, “self-governance”, “combatants”, the “justness” and “legitimacy” of the “cause of the Bangsamoro”, and the unwitting use of the term “self-determination”, and the participation of other States in the process arguably elevated the CAB to the level of an international instrument.
6. The CAB and BBL are full of references to the Bangsamoro’s right to “self-determination.” Under international law, the term “self-determination essentially means “secession.”
Gatdula concludes his paper with this warning: even if Congress produces a BBL conforming to the Constitution, the MILF can disregard the same by saying that such BBL does not comply with a binding international agreement that is the CAB.
This is how badly our people and our nation have been served by President Aquino and his negotiators. They thought they were at liberty to throw away our national sovereignty.
Unknowing and unwilling to learn, Aquino does not comprehend in the least how his gangster concept of democracy has placed the nation in grave peril.
Authority lies in Congress
Some intellectually dishonest priests, businessmen and citizens have tried to rationalize the Bangsamoro project by engaging in legal sophistry and delusional thinking that the BBL bill if passed will bring peace to Mindanao.
Some independent minds in Congress know better, however. They know the dangers embodied by the BBL bill if enacted into law. They know that the unambiguous authority on this issue of the Bangsamoro lies in Congress and nowhere else. Legislators do not have to justify to the Pesident that it is their sworn duty under the Constitution to make law and protect the Republic and the people.
Aquino has no authority under the Constitution to cede a single square meter of Philippine soil to a Moro state. Even a gangster should understand that.