A Muslim senatorial candidate running under the Administration party said the proposed Bangsamoro bill as revised is unacceptable and deserves to be rejected by Congress, but another government senatorial bet warned a flawed bill could be a better option than going to war.
The clashing views between former Assistant Secretary Ina Ambolodto of the Department of Interior and Local Government and ex-Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla surfaced during “The Rundown: A Senatorial Forum” held in UP Diliman.
Ambolodto, a Muslim, rejected the pending Bangsamoro law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) in Congress outright because it deviated from the Bangsamoro Basic law (BBL) proposed by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which is composed of representatives from the government and the MILF.
The government’s BLBAR version excludes the BBL’s salient provisions such as: an opt-in provision that would expand the core Bangsamoro area to the contiguous areas through a plebiscite; the establishment of the Bangsamoro military command; Bangsamoro’s own police; a Bangsamoro audit body; a Bangsamoro Civil Service Commission and a Bangsamoro poll body.
“Hindi po iyon ang napagkasunduan sa CAB. Kaya mas mabuti na po sa amin na hindi iyon maipasa. (That is not what was agreed upon under the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro. That’s why for us, it’s good riddance that that version won’t be passed),” Ambolodto said, referring to the nil chance left for the pending bill to be passed by the present Congress.
“The BBL is the solution… the way to peace for Mindanao. The Congress is almost done [with its session]but that bill hasn’t been passed. Pinaasa kami na maipapasa sa administration na ito. (We were made to believe that [the original version]would be passed within this Administratation),” Ambolodto added.
Petilla, however, cautioned his teammate against holding on to such a hardline stance, which he said, is unlikely to lead to any progress.
“Hindi po pwedeng dahil ayaw niyo kasi binago ng konti… eh aatras na kayo. (Just because you don’t like it due to certain changes made to the bill … you’d back out). The MILF is not happy with the current state, the Philippine government is not happy with the current state. We need to have a compromise,” Petilla, a former Leyte governor, said.
Petilla was referring to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace pact with the government in March 2014 that gave birth to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic law.
“It’s easy to say, let’s go to war, because we are not from there. But for the Mindanaoans, they are sick and tired of war. The proposed Bangsamoro law is not an ideal situation, but it is a premise that we can work on rather than, going back to war. We have to start somewhere,” Petilla added.
The House of Representatives only has three session days left to pass the proposed Bangsamoro law, but attendance by lawmakers has been scarce for the last three weeks, making it difficult to reach a quorum at the plenary sessions to pass any measure.