• “Overwhelmingly acceptable?”

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    Despite the huge public outcry against the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, President B. S. Aquino 3rd has vowed not to accept defeat on this important issue. He intends to ram it through, and not be swayed by the views and sentiments of the people.

    The bill—for this is what it is rather than law—seeks to create an autonomous Islamic political entity in Mindanao for the MILF, to replace the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under the Moro National Liberation Front. The bill is presented as the product of negotiations between the MILF and the Philippine negotiating panel, but many people seem to sense in it much that is the handiwork of foreign interlopers who have made “the Mindanao problem” their own.

    The Mamasapano backlash
    Stung by the Mamasapano massacre, where 44 Special Action Force police commandos were slaughtered by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, pro-Aquino senators and congressmen have promised to purge the bill of any questionable concession to the MILF, which has threatened to reject the slightest change in the bill. This puts Aquino in a pickle. The gloves are off, as far as the legislators are concerned; it may no longer be possible for them to withdraw their objections at this point.

    What happened to Cory could happen to PNoy
    The situation seems to recall the time when PNoy’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino, tried to get the Senate to extend the stay of the US military bases by another ten years after the original treaty had expired in 1991. Although Cory tried to do everything to get the new treaty approved, despite her having marched against the bases before she became president, her old Senate allies could no longer be persuaded to change their anti-bases position, just because they had already said so much against the US military presence. So the new treaty lost even as Cory remained inside the Senate session hall to watch the senators cast their votes.

    The Iqbal effect
    The same thing could happen to the proposed Babala. Many co-authors of the bill have withdrawn their signatures after the massacre. Many others have changed sides after seeing its hitherto unexamined constitutional defects. Many more have taken an adverse position after it became known that the MILF chief negotiator never used his real name in signing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and related documents, but merely used his nom de guerre, Mohagher Iqbal.

    Iqbal has not revealed his real name until now. And Aquino has remained unperturbed by it all. Some of the bill’s supporters have muddled the issue further by saying that Iqbal was doing merely the same thing that actor-politicians, like Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla and Ramon Revilla Jr, were doing. This is specious reasoning, for screen names are legitimate exceptions under the anti-alias law; moreover, the real identity of these actor-politicians is usually known to all.

    Summoning the cronies
    In an attempt to strengthen his position, Aquino has called on some members of the constitutional commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution to speak out in support of the proposed Babala. These are Aquino’s known supporters rather than public intellectuals known for their independent views on public issues; their support for the “constitutionality” of the proposed law has less value than some editorials and columns in our independent newspapers.

    Thereafter, Aquino created a so-called national peace council to “advise” Congress on the bill. Included in this council are Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Makati businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican Howard Dee, and Muslim Princess Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman. On Monday, the group met with the House of Representatives ad hoc committee deliberating on the proposed Babala, chaired by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, to endorse the passage of the proposed law.

    What the good Cardinal said
    In a statement read for him by Fr. Joel Tabora, S. J., president of Ateneo de Davao University, Cardinal Tagle said the proposed law is “overwhelmingly acceptable and deserves the support of all Filipinos.” He did not say how he arrived at this conclusion, and whether the extravagant phrase, “overwhelmingly acceptable,” expressed his position alone, or that of the Archdiocese of Manila, or that of the Philippine Catholic Church, and whether it would bind the faithful of the Archdiocese of Manila. As far as I know many other bishops are opposed to the proposed Babala.

    What the former Chief Justice said
    For his part, Davide was quoted as saying the proposed law “compliments” the Constitution. If this quotation is correct, I have not heard it before. The Constitution is the rock upon which stands the statutory order; every legislation must comply with it, not “complement” it. But Davide did not stop there. He went further to say that he did not believe there was any risk of the MILF eventually seceding and, alone or together with another state, forming a new independent state. This is well beyond his claimed expertise, but he had no inhibition saying a mouthful.

    Davide’s uncelebrated record
    As former Chief Justice, Davide’s presumed field of expertise is the law. But even here, his record has not been unquestioned. In 2000-2001, he presided over the Estrada Senate impeachment trial. The prosecutors walked out of the trial when they could not get what they wanted, and took Estrada’s case to the streets, where Davide joined them. One question that remains unanswered is why did Davide not summon the prosecutors back to court, instead of joining them at EDSA?

    In 2003, an impeachment complaint was filed against Davide over the alleged misuse of the Judicial Development Fund. More than one third of the members of the House had expressed support for the complaint. Under the rules of the House, this meant certain impeachment, without need of any floor debates. But to save Davide from trial and possible conviction, the Court declared the complaint unconstitutional, simply by misinterpreting the relevant constitutional provisions.

    Destroying the impeachment process
    As written, “the House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment.” “The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.” “No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year.”

    Properly understood, this means that no one may be impeached by the House more than once a year, but that one may be subjected to an impeachment complaint by a private party any number of times within the same year. But because Davide had been subjected to an earlier impeachment complaint by a private complainant, even though it did not prosper at all, the Court ruled, through Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, now Ombudsman, that he could no longer be the subject of a new impeachment complaint.

    The ruling saved Davide, but it destroyed the impeachment process. Because of this ruling, an impeachable official could initiate a nuisance complaint against himself, so that after it has been thrown out, no serious complaint could be filed against him for a period of one year. We saw this during the Arroyo administration. What was Davide’s part in devising this scheme? This remains an unanswered question.

    Going to the UN without the CA nod
    Subsequently, Davide retired from the Supreme Court at age 70. He was promptly nominated to the Commission on Appointments as Permanent Representative to the United Nations. I formally opposed this on legal grounds. So did Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on other grounds. Under the Foreign Service Act, career diplomats are compulsorily and automatically retired at 65, while non-career individuals may not be appointed to any diplomatic position at 70 years or older.

    This should have been clear to the former chief justice as it was to this layman. But it wasn’t. In one conversation we had at the CA meeting room, I told Davide how embarrassed I was, a mere layman, to have to point out what the law was to an “eminent master of the bench.” I heard nothing in response.

    Davide was bypassed twice by the CA because of our opposition. After the second time, he was no longer renominated to the CA, but simply took off to assume his position in the UN, without any confirmation. Malacañang invented the theory that because the UN is an international organization rather than a foreign country, an ambassador thereto did not need any CA confirmation.

    A clear violation of the Constitution
    This was a clear violation of the Constitution, which provides: “The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution.”

    Every Permanent Representative to the UN before that had been confirmed by the CA. And Davide himself had submitted to the process, before he was bypassed twice. It is unfair to suggest that he did not thoroughly understand the Constitution. But his conduct was clearly unbecoming of a former chief justice, to say the least.

    The abortive Truth Commission
    In 2010 Aquino created the truth commission and named Davide as its chair. The

    Supreme Court, however, struck down the Executive Order creating the Commission as unconstitutional. Is it possible that Davide did not read the text of the EO before Aquino signed it, or before he agreed to chair it? This, too, is an unanswered question.

    In light of all this, what is the value of Davide’s legal opinion on something as important as the proposed legislation? I hope I am completely wrong, but why should the Congress, least of all the nation, listen to Davide at all?

    The fundamental question
    Until we see the proposed law in its final form, we cannot discuss it in detail. But one thing is clear. The MILF wants an autonomous political entity that is exclusively Islamic in character. Is there any room for this in our secular nation-state under the Philippine Constitution? None whatsoever. I would have had all sympathy and support for the good cardinal and for his Jesuit spokesman, if they had found the proposal exceptionally execrable. But “overwhelmingly acceptable?” As a practicing Catholic, I would like to know why this had to come from my most eminent moral guide and pastor.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    25 Comments

    1. Krissy Cingco on

      Yes, BBL is overwhelmingly acceptable for it’s objective is to control strife and violence in the region, and promote social and economic development and protect and promote the culture of the Moros and the distinct practice of their Faith.

      Sensible and well meaning Filipinos know that the BBL will do the Philippines good. The new region of cultural diversity and religious tolerance will be such a jewel for the Philippines . I am certain tn can be a tourist haven for example.

    2. Franky Lambao on

      If you don’t like P-Noy. Don’t take it out on Muslim Filipinos who are yearning for a new region of opportunity and peace and cultural diversity in the Philippines.

      We should open up our minds and be more objective towards BBL and the peace process. Let us not be swayed by misinterpretations and emotional sentiments towards BBL. The people behind the BBL carefully crafted this for 17 years and we should not waste time anymore. I am for peace so YES to BBL.

      REPLY:
      True. There will be peace after all the Lumads and the Christians in Mindanao have been killed or subjugated by Malaysians and their vanguard the MILF. But that peace will only come to Mindanao after decades of war, because the Christians and the Lumads will not give up without a fight. Meanwhile, the truth is 90% of Mindanao territory is peaceful right nw and for the past decades. Only the places where the MILF and Abu Sayyaf etc. hold power are violent.

    3. We had better adhere to the position taken by Pres. Joseph ErapEstrada: 1 Republic, 1 country, 1 army. With 1 Filipino nation, where no secessionist movements would be allowed. Take a tough stand, Sri Lanka followed it and Tamil rebels were wiped out.
      As the secessionist forces are weakened thereafter, only then should Government accommodate and allow peace talks, amelioration and rebuilding.To reiterate a point, Human Rights will have to take the backseat. The State must prevail , for it is unerring. .

    4. Darling Lapreza on

      Tama na ang pamimilosopo at pamumilitika . It’s so easy to propose this and that at his time because of media attention. Nasaan kayo noong pinaghihirapang itulak and peace process buuin and framework CAB at BBL?? Ayun busy lang kayo Kung Ano yung uso sa media Pdaf dap binay ibarbibang scandalo. Magtrabaho naman kayo !!

      REPLY: Narito po kami at sinuri na namin ang lahat na iyan mula pa nuong ang pinag-uusapan ay ang Framework Agreement lang, at sumunod ay ang CAB hanmggang sa dumating rito sa maka Satanas na Babala. Nagtratrabaho po kami nang walang pahinga. Ito po ay dahila mahal na mahal namin ang kaisa-isang Inang Bayan at Republika natin.

    5. BBL will PASS!! I-push na yan! Tama na ang pamimilosopo at pagmimiron at pagbabaliko ng isip. Please do not play with this very delicate peace process. Families in Muslim Mindanao pin their hopes on it for a different future for their children.

      • Grace Castro on

        The BBL is “inclusive” already if you like buzz words. 500 plus consultations and the most discusses and deliberated Bill even before mamasapano. It is merely initiated by the GOvt and the MILF . It will still be ratified by the general population in the concerned regions during a plebiscite . All MNLF MILF biff Moros Christians Lumad will have a chance to say YES or NO to Bangsamoro.

    6. jason bourne on

      Ultimate Kapo De Capo Mafia Boss: : USAs CIA/State Department
      Undelings in the Philippines:
      Conjuangco-Aquino Clan
      Underlings of the Clan:
      a) Catholic Chuurch – Archbishop Tagle
      b) Supreme Court – Davide, et al
      c) Senate – Drilon, Angara, Poe, Cayetano, Trillianes etc
      d) Congress – Belmonte & LP congressmen
      e) Military – Disgraced bodguard general et al
      f ) Business – Makati Business Club, Lopez family & other Elite Clans
      g) Bureucrats – Hyatt 10 et al
      h) Amuyongs – mga bayaran na entertainers, kidnappers, low-end mafia

      Eto ang Political-Economic structure ng ating bansa

    7. Pablo L. Nucum on

      BBL ay babalang hindi dapat ipagwalang bahala. Pa nauprabahan ito ng mga payak sa kaisipan sa Kongreso, eto na ang magiging hudyat at panimula na mas malaking problema sa security ng ating bansa. Christians in Mindanao will be persecuted, and they will be driven away, treated like an outcast. Yes, this might not happen immediately, but my forecast is written on the wall. Hindi kasalanan ng ating mga Muslim na kapatid kung may nakatagong agenda sa kanilang dibdib. They suffered much too long because of our government lack of good concern and drive to treat them well. Masisisi ba natin sila kung bakit mas strong ang brotherhood affinity nila sa Malaysia na kapwa nila Muslim. Kaya nga oras na mayroon na silang BBL na pinanghahawakan, creating their own country must be fulfilled, magdanak man ng dugo.

      But I wanted to be proven wrong para hindi magkawatak-watak ang ating bansang Pilipinas, at hindi matatag ang Bansang Moro. Pero kailangan yakapin natin sila ng mahigpit at ipadama sa kanila na sila’y lahing Pilipino, at hindi Malaysian.

      God bless us our Muslim brethren and the country as a whole.

    8. vagoneto rieles on

      Ex-Chief Justice Hilario Davide is a learned man. In matters of law and jurisprudence, few can come up to his standard. The BBL matter, however, is not totally about the letter of the law. Rather, it is about interpretation; and, the attitude and inclination of either side to insist in, and fight for their own interpretation. The Sultan of Sulu’s pending claim of ownership of vast areas in North Borneo has been hindered, and is still being denied by Malaysia on the basis of ‘interpretation’ of the ‘lease documents’… duly signed by the British East India Company and the Sultan. Given this experience, and taste, of Malaysia’s shrewd, crafty and duplicitous position vis-a-vis the ‘lease’, Mr. Davide and the ‘peace council’ should have been more prudent and circumspect in their deliberations on this BBL business which is overseen by Malaysia. They should have ensured that the language of the BBL is ‘ironclad’ against dishonest misinterpretations.. especially in the question of ‘territory’ and future territorial expansion; in the issue of Sharia Law; in the establishment a Bangsamoro police force, (militia?), and in dual and parallel governance. This body of honorable and learned men should have been a lot more astute and deliberate; and a little less naive and trusting than were, (are), Mesdames Quintos-Deles and Coronel-Ferrer.
      As a side commentary, it seems that it is only Mr. Zobel de Ayala who has the sense to excuse, and distance himself from this toxic issue of the BBL.

    9. Ang mga taong ito,ay sobra ang kakapal ng mukha,itong si paring tagle,kung paano magturo ng pananampalataya sa loob ng simbahan,ganoon din ang kaisipan niya sa labas, akala niya ang BBL ay bible,nakahit hindi niya masyadong maunawaan ganoon din ang ipinakikita niya pagkaunawa sa usapang pang bayan! Kaya-mas maraming nagagawang kapalpakan,dahil kahit hindi niya linya ay lagi nakikialam,feeling laging siya lang ang totoong nakakaalam ng katotohanan! Kailan kaya ang mga pari ay manatili na magturo sa loob ng simbahan upang

    10. Kale Alaskador on

      Why is it that the supporters of BBL refuse to understand the very clear violations of the constitution? Maybe they need help in understanding simple English or they are using an entirely different dictionary which gives different meaning to the words! Should the BBL be translated in Pilipino, Ilocano, Cebuano or any other dialect so that our poor misguided countryman can see the light?

    11. overwhelmingly traitorous and idiotic, this tagle pala is shallow, fake, charlatan… uninspiring and dangerous, so very damaso

    12. Amnata Pundit on

      There is only one hand behind the BBL, the SWS ” nominating agencies” and the Comelec cheating machines. No matter how hard you try to figure out whose hand that is, you will come up with only one answer and you know what that is. How do you deal with this hand? You attack its achilles’ heel, OCCUPY COMELEC !

    13. jesus nazario on

      Eh ano ba Kit ang acronym ng napaka verbose na description na “Overwhelmingly Acceptable” (sobrang maxed at 24 letters, 9 syllables in 2 words; Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is better, just one word and one-letter acronym “S” as in Sipsip) ? Di ba puede na sana ang easily more understandable ng 99.995% ng Pinoys na “OK naman” or “OKs na OKs” instead ? OA di ba ? Halatang-halatang OA-ing lang ang mga bagong Paraseo ng gumuguhong templo ng sleeping VI (the legendary Village &D%$T) for the past 5 years at the Bahay Pag-asa (as in Juan Tamad’s waiting for the bayabas to fall into his perpetual nga-nga) in the Sleepy Hollow beside the Ilog Pasig of odious smell. He wants 15 more sleeping years sa crumbling templo yata para ma match yung tulog ni Rip Van &D%$T (oops Winkle pala) na 20 years.

    14. Kung totoong lumabas sa bibig ni cardinal tagle ang “overwhelmng acceptable” ang BBL sa mamayan, di kaya isa itong panlilinlang at malaking kasinungalingan na dapat umabot sa Vatican? Ang Pilipinas kung mahal ay dapat isang bansa lang at may isang diwa lang. Hindi na dapat singitan to ng maraming bansa gaya ng bangsa moro, bangsa bisaya, bangsa ilokano, o bangsa kapampangan man. Kataksilan ang mga nagsusulong ng BBL para mahati ang bansa.

      • hindi kaya yung ‘overwhelmingly acceptable’ message ni cardinal tagle ay kontra sa sinabi ni pope francis?? pagkaalala ko ang sinabi ni pope ay dapat ang babala ay dapat patas sa lahat ng mga taong maapektuhan,, like the christians, lumads, other moslems not milf, at base sa konstitusyon. nahihilo na ba si cardinal tagle o hindi sya ang gumawa ng kanyang mensahe??

    15. Rufus and his committee including this peace panel are blinded by Aquino’s promise of rewards. The most compelling issue that are not discussed in most of their deliberations is the Malaysia’s role in the peace talk. Everybody knows except those lackeys in Congress and the peace panel that Malaysia has its vested interest in the oil rich Sabah and continue to exploit its resources even there is pending claim from our country since the time of President Macapagal. The Sultanate of Sulu are opposed to the peace talk with the Malaysian backed MILF because of the Sabah issue and the plan of that country to extend their dominance from Sabah to the whole island of Mindanao through the Bangsamoro Entity and the traitorous act of our shameless President. It is also common knowledge that Malaysia is relentless in their efforts in sending trained terrorists to our country to muddle our efforts regarding our claim to Sabah. Our government does not even protest when Malaysian police forces are maltreating our fellow citizens in Sabah. Mga traydors at idiots!

    16. I have found out long ago that Cardinal Tagle should not be listened to.. He is a number 1 charlatan and a grandstander. So why listen to him? Davide is a another big disappointment. What did he call the ouster of Estrada which was completely unheard of? Many lawyers also say he is also for sale like the CA justices denounced by Sen. Trillanes.

      • jesus nazario on

        Is Tagle worse than the Vatican’s inner-sanctum Carmelengo character in the “Angels and Demons” novel and movie ? His Sunday morning “The Word Exposed” weekly Bible readings reflection and sharing program (which I stopped watching/listening to) should be re-formatted and host-changed and the title made “The Cardinal Exposed.” Ano kaya ang take this time sa kanya ni Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI na minamanok siya sana for higher posts when he was still an Archbishop ? Well, teary cardinal na (OMG wag naman sanang maging Pope !) Tagle is a “graduate” of the (in)famous Bologna University di ba which influenced not the writing but the mis-interpretation and mis-implementation of Vatican II proceedings report which caused the still ongoing schism in the Catholic Church and which Novus Ordo (the New Order of the Holy Mass) portion was strongly protested against by only 2 of the hundreds of cardinals: Cardinal Ottavianni and another cardinal ? Same here, Tagle and his Archbishop tandem from Dagupan have created a very serious schism in the local Catholic church on the issue of Mamapasano and the BBL. This despite the no-brainer choice between good and evil on these nation-shaking issues.

    17. Justaskingseriously on

      To continue with Hans Christian Andersen’s imaginative insight, the emperor latches on to the most eminently worthy Hinge. Cardo (nominative), cardinis (genetive) means hinge (of a door) in Latin. The babala has been definitely unhinged since the special day of the Mama sa panot. The religious hinge along with the legal hinge see eye to eye and both agree that they really see the clothes specially woven for the emperor. That is a quality a naked narcissus loves about these hinges.

      The legal hinge from Cebu has actually been unhinged on reaching the ripe old age of 70. Actually Alzheimer’s disease had been creeping up long before that. How else does one see legal loopholes where there should not be any? (As in the only once-a-year impeachment filing for all citizens or in the diplomatic mission mandatory retirement age.)

      The Jesuit spokesman in Davao covers the hinge for Mindanao by speaking for the hinge in Luzon. What was spoken by the Jesuit Pope about following the founding principles as expressed in the Philippine Constitution went to one ear and out the other ear from the hinge in Luzon as well as the other hinge (not the spokesman) in Mindanao. That unhinges both of them from the Supreme Pontiff. Execrable indeed. What is supposed to be sacred has become ex-sacred. Execrable is totally descriptive. So, does the execrable babala get to be “overwhelmingly acceptable” simply by magical words coming from the sacred hinges? Not if the sacred hinges have become unhinged themselves.

    18. sonny dela cruz on

      I don’t know why the Philippine congress makes laws that they never implemented. The law says “USE OF FAKE NAMES IN AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT IS PUNISHABLE BY LAW, NO EXCEPTION”. They should stop talking the BBL in congress, its a waste of time and money. Do not dissolve the ARMM but strengthened it and the government should put more resources in the region to uplift the life of the muslim people. Dissolving the ARMM and replacing with the Bangsamoro Republic will not bring peace but more chaos in Mindanao because the ARMM will not give up their legal STATUS in the Philippine constitution. There will be fighting between them and the peace loving muslims will be displaced again from their communities due to fighting, and I don’t think the government has the resources to stop the fighting. JUNKED THE BBL.”PERIOD”.

    19. Alejo Rosete on

      Cardinal Tagle is not Cardinal Sin.

      Chief Justice Davide is not Supreme Court Justice JBL Reyes or
      Chief Justice Teehankee.

      Who are they? I do not know.

      Very beautiful argument – Senator Tatad.
      Mabuhay ka