FOURTEEN of the 18 surviving framers of the 1987 Constitution have expressed full support for the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
In their first formal meeting 29 years since the drafting of the Charter, the surviving members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission forged a consensus endorsing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the BBL.
“We believe that a new organic law is necessary to fulfil the vision and spirit that guided the constitutional provisions on autonomous regions,” they said in a statement on Monday.
Those who signed were Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo, Adolfo Azcuna, Teodoro Bacani, Joaquin Bernas, Florangel Rosario Braid, Hilario Davide Jr., Edmundo Garcia, Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Christian Monsod, Ricardo Romulo, Rene Sarmiento, Jaime Tadeo, Wilfrido Villacorta and Bernardo Villegas.
“We were aware in 1986 that we were imperfect instruments of the sovereign will of our people. But however imperfect our perceptions then or our fading memories today, recurring questions on the ‘constitutionality’ of the CAB and of the proposed BBL lead us to offer our insights,” the constitutionalists said.
They explained that the core principle of the 1987 Constitution in mandating a special status for the autonomous regions is the human development of the people of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon.
“Bangsamoro is about the development of people, not about the constitutionality of words,” the Charter framers said, adding that “social justice that calls for genuine social change is the central theme of the 1987 Constitution.”
They cautioned that an interpretation of any relevant provision of the Constitution that results in war and abject poverty would be contrary to its intention.
The framers said the larger context of the CAB and the proposed BBL is “our failure to effectively address the longest running insurgency and the development of our peoples, especially those of Muslim Mindanao.”
According to the constitutionalists, creation of a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region can close the centuries-old gap between law and justice.
“We are on the cusp of a historic opportunity to make it happen,” they noted, saying negotiations on a Bangsamoro peace agreement have dragged on for 17 years.
The Charter framers pointed out that the government’s efforts to bring the peace process to fruition have earned the trust of Muslims.
Commending the government and the peace negotiators, they said the efforts and sincerity of both panels are demonstrated by the broad consultations that were conducted.
The framers cited the explicit requirement in the BBL that the new organic law should be in conformance with the Constitution, and that the Bangsamoro territory shall remain part of the Philippines.
“The challenge of the BBL presents to us another chance at national incandescence.
It is within our reach. Let us set aside partisan politics and stop the urge to exhibit our ability to find nuances of legalism that can delay, or worse, derail the process, feeding on the cynicism and playing on the fears in the national psyche that are more reflex reaction than reasoned response,” the constitutionalists said.
Malacañang has urged Congress to pass the BBL before the election fever heats up this year.
The proposed law seeks to create a new autonomous entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.