IT’S one week before June and four months to October, unless COMELEC decides to move the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy to December 2015. No Calendar of Activities has been released by COMELEC and truly that is bothersome. That is one red flag that needs immediate and careful attention.
Another red flag that has been created because of the doggone insistence on deadlines is the Bangsamoro measure pending before Congress. First, peace cannot be legislated. Second, the Executive pressuring Congress to pass the measure by June 11 is the height of hubris, nothing new under this administration. There are only 8 session days and the approved draft by the adhoc Committee still needs the concurrence of the Committees on Appropriations (block grants and other monies) and Ways and Means (shares in national and local taxes), then plenary. While in the Senate, public hearings are still scheduled. And finally, insisting on the passage by June 11 is creating false hopes for the beneficiaries of the bill. Will it make the last State of the Nation hollow?
Every legislator has a mandate while at the Executive, only the President and the Vice President have mandates. People should not trifle on mandates because that is the basis of democracies. Taxation without representation is all about mandate. So for the House Adhoc Committee to set aside 43 public hearings and a draft composed of more than 100 pages for a weekend draft done on the fly is truly a betrayal of the highest order. Where did the substitute bill came from? Is that not a violation of congressional rules? Is an adhoc committee more powerful than standing committees that it can, at any point of committee deliberation, substitute what is being considered with another draft coming from the Executive, without approval of the committee to set aside the product of consultations? Why are answers to these questions important? Because the substitution, without approval of the members, sets a bad precedence.
Why is this administration willingly and with full knowledge bastardizing processes and procedures to get what they want at whatever cost to institutions? And they are the first to claim and hide behind institutions when attacked? Truly revolting when many of these so-called leaders used to condemn such acts when they were opposing the Arroyo government. They have embraced the mantra, “the end justifies the means” as their guiding principle since 2010. The calumny is so amazing.
As sure as the people’s mandate were set aside and as the weekend draft was being rammed through, the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Laws made public a draft of its report on the constitutionality of the draft BBL. It effectively laid out the argument for striking down the BBL draft as the “construction remains a matter of doubt.” Basic to such position is that we are a unitary form of government. “In providing for three different kinds of power – reserved, concurrent and exclusive – the BBL allows the Bangsamoro government the power to diminish national sovereignty.”
The draft report concluded that the “BBL fails the twofold test set by the Constitution: national sovereignty on the one hand; and territorial integrity on the other hand.”
The weekend draft approved by the House adhoc Committee with the following votes 50-17-1 is a betrayal of the process just to meet the deadline and shout to the whole world that the leader got it out of the legislative maze, but at what cause? It would have been better if the Adhoc was allowed to go to their draft and respect the institution and its processes.
If passed by the plenary, the weekend draft voted upon by the Adhoc Committee repeals Republic Act Nos. 9054 and 6734. Just like that, the 26 years of ARMM has been set aside. Surely, ARMM is not a failed experiment because it gave us lessons to learn from. In fact, it allowed a Mujiv Hataman to be appointed then elected to institute reforms and clean the system. That too is a failure? Repealing both is like saying we start in step 1 which is totally wrong. Whatever happened to the vested rights granted by the two laws? Would the liabilities of ARMM be absorbed by the Bangsamoro government? Why do we always experiment with the Moros? Surely, they know what is wrong with ARMM and they have solutions, if only the national government will listen to them.
Before the weekend draft, there was talk of harmonizing 42 provisions of ARMM law, as amended and the draft Bangsamoro bill. When asked a member of the Bangsamoro Commission, he merely shook his head adding they “do not know” the weekend meeting and whatever draft offered. What is glaring is that the MILF is leaving everything to BSA3 because “we are a revolutionary group” and that is the reason why there is FAB and CAB.” If that is peace, I do not know what is war. Certainly, we are for peace but not in this process where sensibilities are set aside just to deliver, with minor amendments, a commitment made by BSA3. Even if it is a document in violation of the very Constitution BSA3 swore allegiance to. In fact, a mere cursory glance of the weekend draft even had a provision that states: “In no case shall the President of the Republic of the Philippines countermand the advice of the Chief Minister.” This is in relation to dissolution of the parliament.
A wise person used to say, “never bring the problem solving stage into the decision making stage. Otherwise you surrender yourself to the problem rather than the solution.”