FORMER Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu said President Benigno Aquino 3rd will be committing a hug blunder if he rushed the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which, he said, clearly requires amendments to stand judicial scrutiny.
“Sabi niya [Aquino] ibibigay na nya ang Bangsamoro entity, eh hindi naman ito pupwede sapagkat labag ito sa batas [He said he will deliver the Bangsamoro entity but this can not be done because it is against the law],” Kabalu, who is also a ranking official of the Bangsamoro Transition Council, said in an interview over the weekend.
He cited Section 15, Article 10 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states that “there shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”
“When you look at the Constitution ano bang sinabi? ‘Yun ba ay mababago ng mere act of Congress eh nasa batas po yun,” asked Kabalu. “We are not pursuing independence, but we are for the amendment of the Constitution.”
But the former MILF spokesman expressed doubts that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law could be done smoothly as the Aquino government is now running out of time of doing it with only one year left before Aquino’s term expires by 2016.
“Hindi naman papayag na amend pa ang Constitution dahil gahol na po tayo sa panahon[The Constitution cannot be amended due to lack of time],” Kabalu said.
“So, wala na po ang pangako na ‘yun na ginawa ng Pangulo through deception sapagkat pinapaniwala po ang MILF na kaya niya, when in fact, we have three equal bodies in the Philippines [executive, legislative and judiciary] which are independent from one another,” he further explained.
The former MILF leader argued that Aquino “cannot do it alone” and that he is puzzled as to why the MILF had accepted such offer from the government.
“In fact twice nag-meet sa Tokyo and then many underground meetings and backdoor talks na nagaganap and then that resulted to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” he said.
Kabalu said they are proposing an alternative solution through peaceful means with the involvement of other minority groups in Mindanao.
“We need to adopt a new strategy. We at the council are offering an alternative solution. We are not into war but we will be moving and we will take our actions through peaceful means with the involvement of all sectors including the Lumad,” Kabalu said.
“With all the numbers of professionals with us right now, we will now organize not only the Muslim trip in Mindanao including the non-Muslims,” he added.
Asked if the MILF still has control over its troops and the communities on the ground, Kabalu said the MILF leadership is in a better position to reply, an indication that he does not share such observation.
“Mahirap sabihin [Hard to tell],” he said.
In the wake of the Mamasapano clash, lawmakers have become apprehensive of granting autonomous police powers to the proposed Bangsamoro region, as stated in the draft of the BBL.
Rep. Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City earlier said there’s a slim chance of the Bangsamoro bill being passed before Congress adjourns next month because support for the measure has eroded following the death of 44 elite police commandos in an encounter with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last month.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City has admitted that support for the Bangsamoro law has eroded following the Mamasapano clash.
The House and Senate have suspended deliberations on the Bangsamoro bill pending results of the ongoing investigations on the Mamasapano clash.
Among the questionable provisions that have been identified by members of the House panel on Bangsamoro bill are provisions granting the Bangsamoro government the authority to create the Bangsamoro Civil Service Office, as well as its own audit body and human rights commission.