“Yes, but no.” This was what Muslim Bar Association of the Philippines (Musbarap) president Dr. Firdausi I.Y. Abbas told leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the position of his organization on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Abbas, who is the Sultan of Lanao, stated the position of Musbarap to MILF leaders headed by Bangsa Moro Transition Commission (BTC) Chairman Mohagher Iqbal during a dialogue between the MILF and the Muslim lawyer group on Wednesday at the BSA Towers in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila).
Abbas raised opposition, among others, to BBL’s provision on who can be counted as the “Bangsamoro People.” The specific provision states “Those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan and their descendants, whether of mixed or of full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro.”
He explained that based on history, the Muslims in Mindanao were never conquered.
“In 1936, upon his inauguration as President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon laid down the government’s policy towards Mindanao and Sulu—the Bangsamoro homeland, in his address to the first session of the First National Assembly that the time has come when we should systematically proceed with and bring the colonization and economic development of Mindanao and conserve Mindanao for ourselves and our posterity,” he added.
The Musbarap president also pointed out the Bangsamoro is a collective people of the Tausugs and Maranaos, and the people in Maguindanao, whose civilization and culture were recognized by other nations long before the great global powers emerged.
He added the mighty powers of their day, Spain, Great Britain and the United States even entered into treaties with Moro sultans.
Abbas also said his group opposes a provision in Republic Act No 9054, or the Second Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which was incorporated in the BBL. This is Article X Section 4, or Sources of Shariah Law, which provides that the following are the sources of that law: Al-Quran (The Koran); Al-Sunnah (Prophetic traditions): A-Qiyas (Analogy); and Al-Ijima (Consensus).
“Among others means, there could be other sources of Shari’ah. A decision of the Supreme Court or an opinion of the President could therefore be also sources of Shari’ah,” he added.
According to Abbas, Musbarap, which is composed of prominent Muslim lawyers, was never consulted or invited to any conference or meeting on the BBL.
Can be improved
Upon hearing the position of Musbarap, former Ambassador Akmad Sakkam, a Tausug from Indanan, Sulu and member of the BTC, made it clear the BBL is not perfect and the new political entity the proposed law creates can still be improved. Also, consultations all over Mindanao and Muslim sectors in the country can be made by the BTC.
Another member of the commission, an Ulama, also pointed out customs and traditions of a people can also be a source of Shari’ah.
The other members of Musbarap who attended the dialogue were lawyers Ombra Jainal, secretary general; Dalidig Sumndad, vice-president for International Affairs, and Jamil Matalam, chairman for Region 10. Among the other BTC members who attended were former ambassador Akmad Sakkam, former Rep. Asani Tammang of the 2nd District of Sulo, and lawyer Raisa Jadjurie.