Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday said his decision to hold two-day, marathon hearings in Jolo (Sulu) and Zamboanga on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law proved to be correct as it gave his panel valuable inputs that would help in crafting a version of the BBL acceptable to majority of stakeholders.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, noted that the hearings brought out in the open sentiments and concerns of local residents and officials over the draft BBL not given much attention either in news reports or in congressional discussions of the proposed law.
“There is really no substitute for talking to the locals,” he said.
The glaring issue that came to the fore in two-day hearings is that of “inclusivity,” according to the senator.
In Jolo, for example, Marcos noted that 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.”
Representatives from both the MNLF and the sultanate said they want out of the Bangsamoro territory, as conceived in the draft BBL.
In the Zamboanga hearing, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar bared that the five governors of provinces comprising the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) were never consulted in the drafting of the BBL.
Also, Marcos noted that majority of the indigenous peoples (IPs) of Mindanao were apparently left out in the process too.
“That is a very serious shortcoming in the process, that is why we are going to correct it,” he said.
For this purpose, the senator set a hearing for the MNLF on May 18 and for the Sultanate of Sulu on May 25.
Marcos said he is also looking at the possibility of another hearing for local executives of areas that will be included in the Bangsamoro territory and adjacent local government units even as an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives is set to vote on its version of BBL.
“It is now well recognized that the only peace agreement that will bring true, just and lasting peace is one that includes all stakeholders in the BBL and in the surrounding territories,” he added.
“And whatever shortcomings Congress has had in consulting those entities, we will try to correct in the next few weeks by asking them to come to the Senate and give their views and opinions on the BBL,” Marcos said.
He assured that conducting another hearing for the local executives will not cause undue delay in the work of his committee.
Malacanang has openly expressed its desire to have the BBL passed before the last session day of Congress on June 10.
Marcos earlier said his committee will also introduce amendments to address issues of constitutionality, administration, wealth-sharing and power relations, among others.
But he warned that if Congress rushed to pass BBL without addressing its flaws, it would not achieve its end of bringing just and lasting peace to Muslim Mindanao.
“The main priority is getting it right, maybe, a far second is getting it done under the deadline,” the senator said.
Subhead: 1 in 5 OK BBL
Only one of five Filipinos approves of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro political entity and the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll showed.
This was among the findings of the special survey conducted by SWS from March 20 to 23 about two months after the infamous Mamasapano incident. Results were released on Friday.
“[A] generally favorable attitude toward the peace agreements prevailed until after the January 25 incident in Mamasapano, and in March 2015 attitudes toward the proposed BBL were on balance negative throughout the country,” SWS said.
The March survey was conducted among1,200 adults nationwide, including 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It had sampling error margins of 3 percent for national percentages and 6 percent for Metro Manila, rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
But those in the proposed core territory of the prospective Bangsamoro political entity remain hopeful that the BBL will be passed, and that it would bring peace and development to Mindanao.
“Despite the storm of controversy that followed the January 25 Mamasapano encounter, and the delays in congressional deliberations on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that ensued, residents of the Core Territory of the Bangsamoro are still hopeful that Congress could pass the law. The exception to this is in Sulu, where residents are somewhat not hopeful.
“Elsewhere in the BASULTA (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi) archipelago, the outlook is positive. Mainland areas of the Core Territory have a strongly positive outlook,” SWS said.
Residents of the Core Territory were surveyed from February 22 to March 1, using face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults, including 800 in Sulu archipelago and 700 in Central Mindanao.
The Core Territory includes Sulu, Basilan, Isabela City, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Cotabato City, Lanao del Norte near ARMM and Cotabato also near ARMM.
“Consistent with their negative attitude toward the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, people in the Philippines as a whole are not hopeful that the proposed new Bangsamoro government will bring peace and development to the area. People in the Core Territory are more hopeful, with the same geographic variation as noted in the approval of the Basic Law,” SWS noted.
It said the March survey found Filipinos’ knowledge of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), and the subsequent draft BBL to be insufficient as self-rated, and merely stable over two-and-a-half years since the signing of the framework agreement.
Approval of the FAB was at 45 percent compared to 23 percent disapproval (+22) in December 2012, 39 percent with 17 percent disapproval (+22) in March 2013, 49 percent with 23 percent disapproval (+26) in March 2014, and 44 percent with 27 percent disapproval (+16) in June 2014.
But after the Mamasapano incident, only 23 percent approved of the BBL while 48 percent disapproved and 28 percent were undecided, for a net score of -24.
But the special survey in the Core Territory of the proposed Bangsamoro entity from
February 22 to March 1 found somewhat more knowledge of the peace agreements and the proposed BBL.
“In the Sulu archipelago, knowledge was less than in mainland areas of the Core Territory (Maguindanao, Cotabato City, Lanao del Sur, 6 municipalities in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato),” SWS said.
It added that attitudes toward the proposed BBL were positive throughout the Core Territory.
According to SWS, opinions in Sulu and Isabela City were the least strong, while Tawi-Tawi and the rest of the island of Basilan were more positive.
The most positive of all were the mainland areas of the Core Territory, SWS said.