Amend the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law or amend the 1987 Constitution via Charter change or Cha-cha to accommodate drastic changes in the draft BBL.
Either of the two options, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said, will effectively enable the supposedly flaw-ridden BBL to withstand constitutional challenges.
Speaking to students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) in Intramuros, Manila, in a symposium entitled “In the Name of Peace,” Marcos explained the importance of the BBL, touted as an effort to bring peace and development to Muslim Mindanao under the context and framework of the Philippine Constitution.
“We as a nation are now at a particular point in our history where we are renewing our constitutional commitment to peace and development with our brothers and sisters in Muslim Mindanao. And in light of this commitment, we are likewise attempting to recalibrate the terms of the grant of autonomy to Muslim Mindanao, which, as of present time, is legally known and legally recognized as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao [ARMM],” he said.
But the senator told the students that many provisions of the proposed BBL, which was submitted by Malacanang to Congress last year, are unconstitutional and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a constitutional expert, confirmed it in her committee report on the BBL.
Citing Santiago’s report, he said the BBL aims to create a “part-sovereign” or “sub-state” called Bangsamoro, with elements of a state under the Montevideo Convention, namely, permanent population, defined territory and capacity to enter into relations with other states.
If Congress were to pass the draft BBL, the new law would violate the Constitution and will face challenges before the Supreme Court (SC), according to Marcos.
The head of the Senate Committee on Local Government designated to deliberate on the BBL to ensure that it would withstand legal scrutiny, he said amendments to the draft should be introduced and accepted not only by Congress but also by the people of Mindanao.
Marcos said only by revising certain provisions of the draft BBL could the law be accepted and implemented without it being declared unconstitutional by the SC.
Such move, he added, would be easier than changing the Constitution in order to accommodate certain unconstitutional provisions of the BBL.
“These are the peaceful, unifying and constitutional ways of doing it. In the name of peace, let these be done. No shortcuts. No railroading. No threats of violence. No threats of war,” Marcos told the PLM students.
It was the first time for him to talk about the BBL with students who, according to him, play a major role in society, they being the future of the nation.
Marcos said he had visited various places in Mindanao and spoke on the BBL with major stakeholders, among them Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, indigenous peoples, sultanates and representatives from different sectors of society.
“Then I realized, I haven’t talked to the youth and the students yet. If I don’t do this it will be a major shortcoming because the youth are our country’s future and the principal beneficiary of the peace process,” he added.
“I hope that you will be able to pick up important lessons about our topic this morning, because of its sheer importance to our life as a nation, and to our lives as a people, especially to you, our youth,” he said.
“I want to pass a perfect BBL, but it may take a little longer,” Marcos said.
During an open forum, a PLM student in the audience asked the senator about his running for the 2016 elections.
He replied that there have been calls for him to run for a higher position but that he has no exact plans yet.
“My father told me that in politics and in life, keep your options open,” Marcos said, referring to late former President Ferdinand Marcos.
WITH IZA GABRIELLE B. IGLESIAS