• Presidentiables cannot hide from BBL debate


    Here’s the craven and frustrating side of Philippine politics. For six months now, our people have been in heated debate over the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

    With the exception of the Mamasapano incident, no issue has clearly engaged the nation more deeply this year than the BBL. It is front, back and center in the national conversation. Countless hearings have been called at both the Senate and the House of Congress. Numerous public symposia and forums have been held on the subject.

    Meanwhile, as the debate has raged, the public and the media have been previewing the various presidential aspirants in the 2016 election, testing them on key issues and their resumes, in order to winnow the field down to those who will stay the course and be on the ballot come May next year.

    And yet, amazingly, against all reason, the nation has not heard from the prospective candidates on where they stand on the BBL, which strike at the heart and soul of our republic.

    Presidentiables in their foxholes
    Amid all the contentions and recriminations, many of the presidentiables have stayed in their foxholes, afraid to come out and say what they think.

    There are some issues where public figures – especially candidates who seek high public office – cannot take a pass and plead neutrality. Such issues implicate the very purpose of government. Such issues are of grave import to people and country.

    A year before the May 2016 elections, we are learning that the BBL or Bangsamoro question is such an issue. For a serious candidate, fence sitting is not an option. You can hem and haw, but you cannot hide. The issue will find you.

    A quick look at the list of prospective presidential candidates shows who are hiding from the issue, and who have at least the courage of their convictions.

    Let’s look at these personages one by one.

    Jejomar Binay – He’s the second highest official of the land. He announced his presidential candidacy right after he was sworn into office in 2010. Yet nothing in his public statements indicates that he has heard about the BBL or cares about the prospective fragmentation of national territory if the bill is passed by Congress. He has no opinion?

    Manuel Roxas II – He has said absolutely nothing on the BBL. Being a member of the Aquino Administration, we may presume that he supports fully President Aquino’s position. As interior secretary and as the putative standard bearer of the Administration party, he owes it to both the president and the public to present a reasoned argument in favor of the BBL and argue with those who oppose it.

    Total silence is plain and simple cowardice.

    Grace Poe and Francis Escudero – the two senators have announced themselves as a team for the 2016 elections, with Poe as the likely presidential standard bearer. Poe has studiously avoided the hearings of the Senate committees deliberating on the BBL, and she appears to show that she will stand wherever the President stands. Escudero pretends to be interested in the issue by asking questions during hearings, but he has no position on the BBL.

    With Poe’s citizenship under serious challenge, it may not matter what she thinks about this issue.

    Rodrigo Duterte – from the first day that his name was floated as a possible presidential candidate, he has expressed support for the BBL as vital in keeping the peace in Mindanao.

    Ferdinand “Bongbong”Marcos Jr. – Marcos has led the Senate deliberation and examination of the BBL and chaired multiple hearings, some of which were held in key Muslim cities in the south. Last Wednesday, he announced his formal rejection of the Palace version of the BBL and his intent to submit a substitute bill that will fully conform to the provisions of the Constitution.

    Alan Peter Cayetano, Miriam Defensor Santiago – Their candidacies are uncertain, but they have opposed the BBL on the grounds that many of its provisions are unconstitutional. Cayetano believes that if the bill is enacted, the substate will secede from the republic.

    Honest people can differ on the BBL and their preferred solutions and ideas on tackling the challenge of rebellion in Mindanao.

    What is inexcusable is for a presidential candidate not to have an opinion or interest in the issue.

    As every president since President Marcos has known, no leader accedes to the presidency without confronting the challenge of peacemaking and peacekeeping in Mindanao and Sulu. It is an integral part of national leadership.

    Where President Aquino stands
    President Aquino, as head of the executive branch, has stated clearly and plainly where his administration stands:

    1.He is a principal signatory of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement which called for the passage by the Philippine Congress of a Bangsamoro Basic Law.

    2.The officials who negotiated the agreement with the MILF acted on his instructions and direction. Every single one of their commitments had his approval.

    3.In the fight for the BBL’s passage in Congress, Aquino is prepared to put his political capital and his powers behind the measure. He will push for it however long it takes and whatever it will take to get it passed.

    Citizens and legislators who oppose Aquino’s policy and program have two strategic options in the face of Aquino’s obstinacy on the BBL.

    These are:
    1. A strategy of obstruction – Under a strategy of obstruction, the opposition seeks to stop the government from adopting a particular policy and seeks to make it go another way.

    This is what BBL opponents in Congress are doing.

    They are preventing the passage of the BBL.

    2. A strategy of criticism. Under a strategy of criticism, the opposition forces the government to hear complaint and to account for itself. This is the principal strategy of the media, including yours truly.

    The great political philosopher Walter Lippmann has summarized succinctly why an administration needs to listen to criticism. He wrote: “Any administration needs criticism for its own good. It needs to hear the objections. It needs the clarification that comes from having to explain what it is doing. It needs protection from its own courtiers, from the delusions of its own unexamined premises, from the conceit that sooner or later afflicts the human animal when everybody around him says yes. It needs, in short, a series of great debates in which the principles and measures it is using are thoroughly aired, thoroughly questioned, and thoroughly explained.”

    The comprehensive peace agreement and the Bangsamoro Basic Law show how much PNoy needs to learn about the value of criticism. But he may be too stoned to change his way of governing.



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    1. joseluis hierbas on

      As proposed by Mayor Duterte and other matured people, Federalism is much better than adapting BBL only. The BBL is a blunder of people who are seeking peace but unable to include other communities who are also interested on lasting peace. But the BBL is only concern for a Bangsamoro gov’t. which by analysis they will detach from the Republic of the Philippines forgetting that they should be part of one country. If ever the BBL will push-through there will be a big problem, a worst problem as it is now. Once the Bangsamoro becomes a state within the Philippines, their gov’t. laws will be based on their Sharia as in the Koran, then all other faiths within their jurisdiction will be displaced and kickout as it would be Muslim only in their area. Better adapt the Federal form of gov’t. as all regions could benefit on their plans and development and can leave peacefully as in co-existence.

    2. This BBL is only a smokescreen for the abnoy to keep the attention of the nation away from his non-performance, his crime of abandoning the SAF 44 and his accountability for pushing the unconstitutional DAP! This is his DEFENSE strategy…. keep pushing for the BBL to keep the people busy fighting it and it seems it is working for him! But it will only be for a short time….soon, this BBL will worsen his problem! get ready for his suicide…his next exit strategy if pleading insanity doesn’t work!

    3. Vic PenetranteVic on

      Your “strategy of criticism” is not acceptable to President Aquino. He said, “Offer solutions, not criticisms.” He is a know-it-all.

      • Firestarter on

        He will not be criticized if his framework and policy is for the advantage of the majority of the people. The people has spoken already that the BBL is not a key to peaceful means in Mindanao. We are all Filipino citizens with only one identity. Aquino is funding our death if this BBL will be approved. What we need a faithful implementation of the law. The ARMM is not a failure mechanism it was drafted and passed by the lawmakers to insure the well being of the Moros. It is only those Moro officials of the ARMM with personal interest makes this law obsolete. Massive corruption in the ARMM region have been committed by their officials. Granting they approve the BBL, if the framers will not safeguard and monitor the officials of this new region again massive corrupt will surface to the destruction of this so called law of peace.

    4. Just like what the good Senator Ralph Recto said the BBL involves spending hundred billions of Filipinos hard earned money it maybe just and fair to conduct
      a plebiscite to find out whether or not majority of the Filipinos approves its passage. The President may recommend for it but cannot have the power to push its passage by mere numbers of his political patysenate in congress and isenate.
      The Filipinos have already spent so much of its resources in previously approved peace that only needs changes to make it work and attain the same peace and development for our muslim brothers in Mindanao.

    5. Ricardo V. Avelino on

      The Philippines Has Gone Mad With BBL
      by Ricardo V. Avelino
      “Better Not Like If Afraid”

      Benigno Aquino 111 as president of the Philippine Republic with the support of other supposed leaders of the country is raising the white flag of surrender to the global advance of the Muslims through the MILF Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

      The MILF together with the Abu Sayaf Group (ASG) and the New Peoples Army (NPA) are among the alleged terrorist groups around the world that recruit and use children according to Wikipedia as per April 23, 2010 report of the United Nations Security Council. The late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo on October 28, 2011 admitted that some members of the Abu Sayyaf are related to members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and even government officials.

      Is this writing a mere act of hate or with a strong base of reality?
      How many of our military generals were killed after trusting a many times “fake peace talk treaty offering?”

      Why would the Philippine leaders approve BBL much more that the MILF representative is a fake in identity and give reports to Malaysia instead of to the Philippines? And they are threatening us that there will be more blood if BBL is not approved. Wow!
      Wikipedia records that MILF also continues to deny connections with Al-Qaeda, though it has admitted to sending around 600 volunteers to Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and that Osama Bin Laden sent money to the Philippines, though the group denies directly receiving any payment.

      The Archbishop of Canterbury in Great Britain Rowan Williams out of “feelings and compromise” said in a BBC radio interview “that the United Kingdom needs to face up to the fact that some of its citizens that is British Muslims “do not relate to the British legal system.” Therefore, the British legal system needed to at some point, “adopt parts of Sharia Law, a legal code based on the Quran,” the sayings of Mohammed, and centuries of tradition.” (Michael Youseff: When The Crosses Are Gone).

      Do you see the parallelism? Having the Bangsamoro Basic Law is just like adopting Sharia law to the Philippine law and what is wrong with it?

      Or, shall we ask, where is equality? What is fair about having unequal legal standards for a Muslim Filipino and a Non-Muslim Filipino in the same country Philippines? Ask me and I will give you details of factual stories happening around.

      President Aquino’s decision seems to be based on “feelings and compromise.” He and his supporters want to demonstrate sensitivity to the feelings of the Islamic community while losing sight to the democratic principle of equal justice.

      Another bishop, Michael Nazir Ali, once spoke about what he calls “NO GO ZONES” in Muslim communities where Christians dare not enter. As a result of death threats, Bishop Nazir Ali has to be in police protection because “Sharia is in tension with fundamental aspects of Anglo-American Law.
      The Philippine law is mostly patterned on American law where the legal tradition is rooted in the moral and spiritual vision deriving from the Holy Bible. This crucial difference has escaped Canterbury Archbishop Rowan Williams and all the other RC priests and archbishop supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

      Just in case, by the way, are the MILF willing to remove from their teachings the “Death to Infidels” if the BBL is approved? Infidel by definition is “Unbeliever” to their faith. In a moderate Muslims meeting here it was asked and admitted that “Death to Infidels” also is a teaching to them as with the radicals. What then is new?

      Now, they are bringing the matter to the decision of the Filipino people. You are the Filipino people. Hence, please DO NOT ALLOW BBL to serve DEFEAT by CHOICE to the Philippines. Remember Mamansapano which is only one amongst.

      • I am not a Muslim. But I have to say, the article grossly misrepresents Islam as a faith. It is trying to paint Islam as a violent and backward religion, the Al-queda and the Abu sayaff just to name a few, are not the rule but an exception in the Muslim world. Just as there are fundamentalists in the Judeo-Christian faith, there are those too in the Muslim faith that wants to see their scriptures followed to the letter. On a another note, Wikipedia as a source? That information in that website can be edited by just about anyone with a computer, an internet connection and a few minutes to spare, please.

    6. Lilia Galvez on

      Attention political analysts: we, voters need more of this kind of analysis of presidentiables so we will be able to produce the best leaders for our country.

    7. Every politician should state their position on the BBL. The public has already given notice the it should be junked.

    8. Allen Skeen on

      To The Author,
      Keep up the good work and make the candidates declare their intentions on this most important issue that is deciding the fate of the Philippines and it’s people.

    9. Samuel Santos on

      Yung mga “men” ay mag-papahiwatig ng kanilang mga paninindigan tungkol sa BBL, pero yung mga “boys” ay tatahimik na lamang. LOL

    10. please be elaborate on duterte’s side on BBL. Since he appreciate aquino’s effort, he has some misgivings on bbl constitutionaly. So, he campagins for federalism. Another alternative.