THE hasty passage, as President BS Aquino wishes, of the Bangsamoro Basic Law bill in its present form will produce more crises and tragedies worse than the Mamasapano massacre. That disaster happened because PNoy relied on his old and trusted friend, then suspended national police chief Alan Purisima to serve as his alter ego in carrying out the commando mission. And he (PNoy) ordered military units that wanted to save the lives of our 44 PNP-SAF commandos to stand down.
He took the “negative, negative” decision because he was afraid letting our soldiers do the right and honorable thing would wreck his precious peace process with the MILF.
Now, he is again precipitately moving to get the BBL bill passed. It will demolish the constitutionally created Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and frustrate the aspirations of Muslim Filipinos who were working to perfect their autonomous region. It will give the leaders of the rebel separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front a brand new region or substate. The Bangsamoro Basic Law bill as it is now gives the MILF leaders control of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region. More than that it also gives the MILF leadership an unconstitutional parliamentary and ministerial sub-state that can easily integrate with Malaysia. When it does, the proposed Bangsamoro substate will not be the first territory of the Philippines to be swallowed up by Malaysia. The first to be illegally taken away from the Filipinos is Sabah (North Borneo). This territory belongs to the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo–and the Philippines.
BS Aquino’s Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has been so efficient and effective in the propaganda to make people believe that passage of the BBL bill will truly make Mindanao the region of peace that it should be. Mindanao was in fact the and of peace and promise– before the Malaysian supported separatist rebels mounted their rebellion. The truth is that only those parts of Mindanao where the MILF and their friends the BIFF and the other gangs of armed bandits (including even some members of the Abu Sayaff Group) operate break out into wars, vengeance killings and other kinds of violence. Most of Mindanao’s provinces are just as peaceful and by and large as prosperous as the rest of our country.
OPAPP propaganda has also made most Filipinos and even foreigners think that nearly ALL the people of Mindanao–Muslims and Christian alike–want the BBL bill passed so that the ARMM is dissolved and the MILF can rule over a new Bangsamoro substate. This has been proved to be a gigantic lie during the hearings of Senator Marcos’ committee in Sulu and Zamboanga.
More than half of the inclusive members of the community who participated in the hearings in Jolo were opposed to the BBL bill as it is written.
The various objections aired in Jolo were summarized to The Times by former governor of Tawi-Tawi province, Almarim Centi Tillah, president of the Parhimpunan Sin Islam (Philippine Islamic Society), who is also the Wazir (political officer) of the Sultanate of Suku and North Borneo.
He told the hearing that the Tausugs, who are the overwhelming majority of the people of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, parts of Zamboanga and Basilan, and other Muslim Filipinos who are not Maguindanaos or Maranaos (who make up the vast majority of the MILF) cannot possibly accept the arrangement designed by the MILF and now being pushed by President Aquino.
He said the MILF people’s only similarity with the Tausugs is their common religion. But their languages, customs and traditions and upbringing are very different.
The Tausugs deplore the crafting of the BBL bill by Malaysians and the MILF without regard to what the Tausugs and other island Filipino Muslims feel and want. They want negotiations between the Philippine government and the Filipino Muslims and the people of Mindanao to be inclusive–so that even Christians and indigenous peoples, the Lumads, could give inputs.
He gave Senator Marcos the proposal he brought up a decade ago for two federal autonomous regions to be created–after, of course, the necessary amendments to the Philippine Constitution. One autonomouos region will consist of the landlocked provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. The other will be made up of the island-provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. This proposal is favored by the people of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, and Chairman Misuari of the MNLF.
Senator Marcos is reported to have said, “There is really no substitute for talking to the locals. The glaring issue that came to the fore in two-day hearings is that of ‘inclusivity.’”
Marcos is reported to have noted that in Jolo many resource persons spent a lot of time decrying the fact that they were left out in the process “because they are MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), because they are Tausugs, and they belong to the Sultanate of Sulu.”
Not only will a new dispensation in Mindanao, with MILF leaders lording it over the other Filipino Muslims, cause Tausugs and Lumads to rise against MILF Maranaos and Maguindanaos. Christians, too, will react — maybe violently.
Congress must not pass the BBL bill in its present form.