PRESIDENT Benigno S Aquino’s peace process people deserved the scolding Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos gave them at the Senate committee on local government hearing yesterday. Marcos chairs that committee.
He said the people of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) had failed to to do their job of consulting all the stakeholders in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Senator Marcos saw how many Mindanao people whose lives will be affected by the abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the formation of the proposed Bangsamoro substate had not been asked for their opinion and inputs. He has been meeting with Filipino Muslims and other Mindanaoans in Mindanao and yesterday at the Senate.
The OPAPP official sent to the hearing was Undersecretary Jose Lorena. He admitted that OPAPP had not sought representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Sultanates of Mindanao, the indigenous people, or concerned local government officials in the government panel that negotiated the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Not angrily but just confirming what he already learned before in Mindanao, Senator Marcos asked Usec Lorena, “So you were negotiating about the land, the culture, the history of the Sultanates and they were not included in the negotiations?”
Lorena said that during the negotiations, the OPAPP had accepted as fact that MILF was representing the Bangsamoro people. He said Bangsamoro congresses were held where resolutions were adopted supporting the peace process.
Lorena also explained that the OPAPP plan is to have two sets of consultations, One is in the actual negotiation with the MILF panel. The second set is when the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is underway. That is when, he said, the royal families of Mindanao, the IPs and other stakeholders will be consulted.
Marcos said, “We are doing your work for you. This is something you should have done during the process of negotiations so that when you presented the BBL to Congress then that version of the BBL incorporated into it all of the views, opinions, suggestions from all of the stakeholders.”
“How did you imagine that something as important, as far reaching, as profound as the creation of a Bangsamoro government in Muslim Mindanao, could possibly have been successful without including inputs, participation, consultation from all the sultanates, for that matter, from the IPs?”
President Aquino has told his allies that he wished Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before adjournment on June 10. And yet the OPAPP had not made any moves to hold consultations with the sultanates and other stakeholders up to now.
Like his top boss, BS Aquino, who is often caught lying, Usec Lorena may have been less than truthful when he told Senator Marcos at the hearing about Secretary Deles and Chief Negotiator Ferrer having a “two-tier consultation” plan.
Marcos said that he had received position papers from the OPAPP claiming that it had in fact held consultations with all Mindanao stakeholders in the course of drafting of the proposed BBL.
The senator said he decided to conduct the hearing to address the “shocking revelation” that the Sultanates had not been consulted, along with other major stakeholders like the MNLF, the Indigenous Peoples and local government officials.