We must step back to go forward


The vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has warned the nation of war should the Congress fail to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL or “Babala”), which seeks to create a separate “political entity” for the MILF—a “separatist state or substate,” in the view of an increasing number of Filipinos. This was promptly followed by a similar statement attributed to a spokesman of the Malaysian ministry of defense. President B. S. Aquino 3rd has responded by calling on Congress “to pass the BBL today, or prepare to count the body bags tomorrow.” Then he created a so-called “national peace council” to hold a “summit” on the Babala to help ensure its passage.

Aquino’s latest sound bite is a bit alarmist, while the “summit” proposal looks constitutionally skewed. Not even Neville Chamberlain in 1938 said anything half as alarming when appeasing Hitler before Britain finally declared war on Germany after its takeover of Sudetenland. As for the proposed Babala “summit,” it seems like a clear attempt to load the dice in favor of the MILF after the Congress has assumed full jurisdiction over the bill. One mainstream newspaper’s banner headline reveals the propaganda slant: “Chiz urges P-Noy to alter draft bill.”

Nothing in the story shows that Chiz (Sen. Francis Escudero) would like Malacanang to take over the legislative process; at this stage, Congress is fully in charge. But Malacanang wants to take over, and if all you read are the headlines, you’d think that’s what the few remaining senators who still think also want. At issue here are the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the secular character of the State. They should never be trifled with. But Malacañang seems less anxious about these values than the reawakened patriotic voices in Congress.

An interesting expose by the veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas helps to cast a stronger light on this point. This has to do with the Philippine claim to Sabah, which is seen to have been one of the Babala’s immediate casualties. In the middle of all the brouhaha on the Mamasapano massacre and the Babala, Tordesillas says the Department of Foreign Affairs has offered to “downgrade the Philippine claim to Sabah” in exchange for Malaysia’s support of the Philippines in its maritime territorial dispute with China.

Clueless about our national interests?
If true, it shows how cheaply the government imagines the real meaning and worth of its national interests. It means it is ready to abandon a huge chunk of property that is rich in oil, gas and various other mineral resources in exchange for a few rocks in the South China/West Philippine Sea just to be able to square off with China. Naturally, the DFA has denied the report, but so many more people are likely to believe it. My sentiment is with the many, but I am inclined to take the DFA’s side only because, to the best of my knowledge, we may no longer have any Philippine Sabah claim to “downgrade”—the government has long buried it. In fact, all sorts of nasty rumors have been floating around since last year about a ten-figure dollar payoff on Sabah that reportedly came through a Sultan in Peninsular Malaysia, which no one can prove or disprove. This has become part of the lurid lore on this subject.

The Babala is officially presented as the fruit of a multiple-brokered peace agreement. (So many foreign governments, and so many NGOs involved.) That is what the presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles and Aquino’s chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer tell us. But an increasing number of Filipinos seem to see it in virtually the same terms as Winston Churchill saw Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler—a declaration of “defeat without war.”

Because of Aquino’s known control of Congress, earlier achieved by paying off its members to force the enactment of a foreign-imposed Reproductive Health Law and to impeach and remove a possibly uncooperative Supreme Court Chief Justice, he and the MILF have from the very beginning assumed the Babala’s swift passage. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in 2014, rather than the Constitution, would be the ultimate basis of the law to be enacted. Congress would automatically pass the draft, without any constitutional objections, and without any proposed amendments.

However, the Jan. 25, 2015 massacre of 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force commandos by the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, and the nationwide outcry for Aquino to assume responsibility for it and to step down changed all that rosy perspective. The Congress finally woke up, and a number of Babala co-authors withdrew. They began to worry about their own political survival for their uncritical support of the draft. They began to question the bill’s previously unquestioned premises.

For example:
If the MILF truly represents the entire Bangsamoro, what then is the standing of the Moro National Liberation Front, with whom the government had long finalized a peace agreement, and for whom the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was formally constituted? What about the BIFF, which had fought alongside the MILF in exterminating the SAF contingent? And what about the so-called Justice for the Islamic Movement, which has begun creating its own noise?

Cardinal-Archbishop Tagle must address a fundamental issue
If the MILF is truly committed to peace, what were the three international terrorists, who were the object of the SAF commandos’ mission on Jan. 25, doing inside their base camp? And why did that peaceful SAF commando operation end in that carnage? Finally, as a matter of fundamental constitutional principle, why should a secular republic carve out part of its national territory to create a purely confessional (Islamic) state or substate?

These questions were not discussed in the peace agreement, and are not likely to be answered in PNoy’s peace “summit.” Why? Because the answers are not easy, assuming they actually exist. The most important of these involves the creation of a confessional Islamic entity within a completely secular and pluralistic nation-state, different from an autonomous entity where people of various confessions could live together as a large multicultural unit.

In a freewheeling discussion of all the issues, Cardinal-Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who is one of the summit “convenors,” will have to point out this fundamental issue, both as a citizen and as a pastor and moral guide. What he will say may not at all be helpful to Malacanang and the MILF, but he will have to say it, in the name of truth and justice. Until now, no one has wanted to talk about it, but in a “peace summit,” it cannot be avoided. It is, therefore, likely that a further clarification of the issues could only make the Babala harder to push.

Should we then expect a Malaysian invasion, or an all-out war with the MILF just because we could not set the truth aside or bend our constitutional and moral principles to suit their convenience? In the spirit of the season, I would earnestly propose that instead of trying to pull out all the stops to pass a bill that cannot be passed without violating the Constitution and creating so much anxiety and unrest among our people, President Aquino should now meet with the top leaders of the MILF, as they once did in Tokyo sometime back, and agree to step back in order to move forward.

We have to reexamine the problem at greater depth and length in order to arrive at a workable way out. If the MILF believes they need and deserve authentic autonomy for their own people, so do the rest of the Filipino people in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao need and deserve it as well. Therefore, instead of trying to design one autonomous region for one rebel group or one region, with attributes resembling those of an independent state or substate, we should now try to design an autonomous structure for all the regions, and prepare to transform our unitary nation-state into one great federal union like the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada or the United States.

Instead of consuming ourselves on the passage of one problematic bill that may not be worth passing in the end, perhaps we should now begin to work on the framing of a new Constitution that would bring in the desired structural and system change for the benefit of all. This could mean a constitutional convention duly elected by the people to write a new Constitution that would lay to rest all the constitutional issues that have arisen in the framing of the Babala. Instead of trying to intimidate and frighten us with the threat of violence and war, as the MILF vice chair and the Malaysian defense ministry spokesman are trying to do, we need to integrate all our resources for nation-building, solidarity and peace. And we must do it now.



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  1. Jaime Sandoval on


    Aquino , who is acting more as a leader & president of MILF than being the President of
    THE PHILIPPINES, must be suspended from the most powerful Office of the Philippines to prevent from wielding the highest authority for his nefarious agenda against our sovereign republic.

    What would he execute if say, instead of 44 SAF, 5,000 Filipino police/ military were massacred instead? Still talking “peace”?

  2. Sincerity is proven by passage of time. Right now what we have is a dangerous atmosphere of treachery – why the haste in passing the BBL. If the MILF is really interested in peace, there must be no condition, coercion nor intimidation. As for the government, trust is lost. Peace build without sincerity and trust has no strong legs to stand. Who likes war ?

  3. Leodegardo Pruna on

    The more logical and reasonable action to do is to amend or rewrite our Constitution rather than pass the BBL which from the very start has been flawed. God bless the Philippines.

  4. Chris Sandoval on

    This matter involves national security. Therefore, all patriotic or concerned Filipino people should unite and go to Malacañang and arrest Noynoy Aquino for treason. The passing of Babala will result in a civil war, and we will start counting body bags but we have to make sure that ninoy’s head should be inside in one of those body bags.

    This process of arresting Ninoy will not be a peaceful one, we need to arm ourselves and expect to engage with PNP/AFP/ PSG who are loyal to the traitor that sits in Malacañang.

    This is the sentiment of many Filipino people.

  5. The question is why do we tolerate Malaysia’s interference into our affairs. And why do we allow a party to an agreement to blackmail the government into submission, by using the threat of war.
    Reading the news from where I am, we look like a country with a government buried deep in a quagmire of its own making. This administration is swimming neck-deep in very filthy waters of inefficiency and corruption, and stinking like the pits of hell. And the lifeline being thrown to it by Malaysia and the MILF, is not a lifevest to save it, but a big rock tied to a rope, all the better to let it sink fast.
    I suggest Benigno that you stop swimming and just drown yourself voluntarily. We promise not to shed a tear.

  6. Panahon na siguro para kumilos ang aging nga senator, congressmen at supreme court para pag-aralan kung ang kinikilos ng Presidents at ikakasira ng ganda o Hindi. I to at habang me panahon pa bago maganap ang isang pagkakamali na mahirap maituwid sa hinaharap ” eto ang pagpupumilit ng pangulo na ipasa ang BBL”. Kung kailangan managot, matanggal o makulong dahil dito ay siyang dapat gawin. Isama na rin dito ang pangingialam ng Malaysia sa problemang panloob ng Pilipinas.

  7. @JT PNoy never has been a true leader. All one needs do is look at the definition of a leader.

    Leader defined:
    Noun 1. leader – a person who rules or guides or inspires others

    He may rule but, he never guides or inspires others.

  8. I rest my case on this administration: “No balls and No brains.” But full of Lies!
    Thus, B.B.L.

  9. as always, mr Tatad has the power of clarity and knowledgeability, and brilliancy. we can see that the BBL is clearly unconstitutional and can even see through the real objective of the bill when it is approved. having a state within a state, which will be the end result of the BBL, does not augurs well viz-a-viz the territorial integrity of this nation state—the Republic of the Philippines. in this connection, may i ask if what crime will those who will approve the bill into law will commit, and what is the corresponding punishment?i am asking this question on the premise that those who will approve the bill know full well in advance that the BBL will not be to the interest of the nation as a whole. if this is not culpable violation of the Philippine Constitution, then i don’t know what is?

  10. I Remember... on

    Federation like Swiss… like Duterte? Like Canada…. like UK?

    It is obviously the only and real solution to the Philippines actual problems…. a one man show cannot work!

  11. Jaime Hernandez on

    It appears that it’s blackmail…give us what we want (P75 billon) or it’s war.

  12. Can it be that even the generals in the armed forces are now TRAITORS all…?

    Perhaps this is an opportune time for the NPAs to act…in a stunning reversal of roles…?!!

    I shudder to think at how all these Pnoy craziness will end…

    The people should all en masse at the Senate and the Batasan on the day they will vote to pass this illegal BBL, and act accordingly towards all the lawmakers who will vote for it…like conducting CITIZENS’ ARREST on all of them, in one fell swoop!

  13. There’s something wrong with this administration. Our country is an independent country complete with its constitution and more with operational procedure the same as the Americans. The present situations are just political especially the method involved is politics as personal business of politicians. Mindanao is the 3rd big region of the Philippines and the people are all Filipinos with different tribal affiliations and faith. The problem in Mindanao is only a delay in development because most people are not well-educated due to different ways of living. Mindanawanons has the christians of different denominations, muslims also has various faith in Islam, shittes, sunnis, abu khalifa, salafis, abu sayafs, hanafis, jaafaris. husseini, iranon, houthis & so many others the reason why they could not be united and there’s always trouble, the least is the rido, jihad etc. The solution in Mindanao should be strenght in the gov’t. develop different towns, cities, barangays. The multi billion budget for just a known group MILF is too much for the development. Educate the people in accordance with the law. Governments should only make slight diversions for different tribes. Elections of Governors, Mayors, congressmen, senators the same all throughout based on people endorsement. All depts. coa, nha, dpwh, all are the same with budgets. The problem before politicians encourages muslim tribes to cheat in the election, the reason the strong tribe made good result by letting the dead people vote. What’s needed is strong leadership. At present so many Muslims influential in Mindanao, Ampatuans, Mangondadatus, Dimapuros, Sinsuat, Lao and new educated generations, they are after for economic developments and etc. they can manage rather than continue with the trouble due to hunger of power. New Muslims now uses WC, showers, & etc. not like before that they need to live near water sources for ablutions in time of prayer.

  14. the reason why our AFP has been like a robot or puppet by this lunatic president , maybe he bribed our top officials of the AFP with money just to keep quite and simply says our AFP military equipment is no much with Malaysian. Pera pera na lang pinalalakad nitong lunatic president ng Pilipinas. Kanino kayang pera ang ginagamit niya na panunuhol sa mga opisyales niya sa ating mga generals??
    Idiot and stupid who voted this lunatic president..if the war start to erupts, nasaan kaya itong presidenteng ito???

  15. You are correct. We must go back to go forward. We are at a place where we have negotiated with terrorists to give them everything they want. Start again and do it right.

    The first step is to junk the BBL and all agreements with the known terrorist group (MILF).

    The second step is to have governors convene a panel to look at the ARMM and report on what is working and what needs repair. They should report to the Congress not the executive branch.

    The third step is to disarm the Philippines of any weapon larger or more lethal than a pistol.

  16. Ang di ko matanggap na argumento sa issue na ito, ay kapag naging batas na ang BBL magkakaroon na ng kapayapaan. Hindi ginagawang batas ang pagkakaroon ng kapayapaan, isinasabuhay muna ito. Kung paggawa ng batas ang solusyon sa mga problema natin, e di sana paraiso na ang Pilipinas sa dami nating mga batas (na hindi sinusunod) na pinagtibay para gumanda ang ating buhay.

  17. If indeed and in fact these moro rebel secessionist is looking to develop Mindanao into a developed society as they envision, all they need to do is lay down their arms and work with the government, without resorting to violence or war, because that is what a civilized society is all about.

    With all the tax payers monies to be given away by the government to develop, a certain part of the country, it is but proper that these monies will have to be recovered by the government to invest or finance the development of other areas in the country or regions, which are equally in need of development.

    There is no reason, as to why the government will treat these rebels differently, while ignoring the rest of the population, who are experiencing the same miserable plight of poverty. BBL, is not the solution to the problem that plagues the nation, rather the nation must hold accountable all lawmakers, for not doing their jobs to pass laws that protect the civil rights of every Filipinos, from exploitation of those who weld extra-judicial powers.

  18. sonny dela cruz on

    I believe the President of the Philippines is mentally sick, because he is not acting like a president. The way he talks and the way he insist to approve this BBL, instead of focusing on the growth of the economy, the intimidation of China against the Philippines, the domestic problem of the country and to create more jobs for the people. Someone I think is the one running the country. The Filipino people should find it out.

  19. we only have one armed forces of the philippines.,and that is AFP.then why tolerating this group of asshole to demand.are we saying that MNLF is much stronger than AFP,how much more if we are at war to any country,they cant even beat this terror group in our backyard.

  20. we have a president who believes in his wisdom alone. he should be more open minded to sift the chaff from the grain, after all ours is a republic not a monarchy.

  21. God has spoken. Imagine 44 Martyrs just to wake you up Telenovela addicts and F#yaw cheering squad citizen that the former pearl of the orient will be divided into an islamist state on the south and communist on the north courtesy of your beloved yellow regime.

  22. Tama Tama Tama Tama Tama ka Maddflo. Pinaka GAGO na Administrasyon mayroon tayo kung ipatuloy pa ang BLL.

  23. chthonic monster on

    The Americans should know the character of the men they are dealing with in Singapore and not get themselves further dragged into calumny. They are not dealing with Ngo Dinh Diem or Syngman Rhee. You do not buy and sell this Government. _ _ Lee Kuan Yew
    Sept. 2, 1965, reacting to a $3.3 million bribe offered by the C.I.A. in exchange for the release of an agent

    op kors naman ganito dapat ang tunay na lider ng Bansa hindi natitinag! my apology however for making a comparison! it’s apples and oranges!

  24. Mr. Tatad, you are asking fundamentally IMPORTANT AND RELEVANT questions on the consequences of the Babala bill.

    I hope that our legislators listen to what you are saying. I would like to have PNoy resign or be impeached for what he has done to the country.

    • Denis Ikbafar on

      Dapat talaga, huwag na huwag ibabalik si Noynoy. “NO!” to Noynoy-2016, tama na, isang term lang dapat! Join the Motorcyclists-for-Mar Roxas, elect world-class Binay or join the vigilantes-for-Duterte. Maski sino ang iboto, huwag lang si Noynoy.

  25. So, what is your suggestion? Criticism is good when it is constructive. But criticism alone is just hoping for failure no matter who suffers.

    • da anser is federalism. one law for all. one design of governance, separate entities, one nation, one flag, one national government. independent from sub-state-to-sub-state or autonomous from each region/province or sub-state. one banana to each autonomous region, or the rest will pelt you with sandals.

  26. The issues are getting clearer….What difference does the Bangsa Judicial Entity (BJE)
    of the past administration against the BBL..it appears Malaysia is the beneficiary of everything…

  27. We Filipinos are all idiots if we cater to the whims of our pinakagagong Presidente tungkol dito sa proposed peace agreemnet with his BFF Malaysian backed MILF. Imagine minasaker na ang mga anak niyang mga sundalo at magawa pa niyang mag-threat kung hindi pag-bigyan ang kahilingan niya at kaniyang mga kasundong MILF. Bakit sunudsunuran si Abnoy sa mga Malaysian at gusto pa isurrender ang claim natin sa Sabah? Kung hindi ka ba naman gagong Presidente bugok ka talaga. Ito naman mga buwaya sa Kongreso sunodsunuran lang kay Abnoy dahil lang ba sa salapi? How can you make peace with one rebel only at halata pa na sponsor ng outsider Malaysia. Okey sana ang peace negotiation kung na-unify ang mga iba’t ibang mga rebels katulad ng BIFF, MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, JIM at mga iba pa kasama ang MILF, pero hindi e. How can you attain peace with one rebel only? Tapos nakikialam pa ang mga Malaysian. Can we as Filipinos handle our own internal problems? Ano ba ang mga magiging prisipiyo natin kung kinakailangan pang mag-patulong sa ibang bansa para lang sa kapayapaan sa Mindanao. Takot ba tayo sa MILF? Ang masaklap, pati ang taxpayer’s money natin lahat in billions of pesos ipamudmod sa MILF kung maipasa ang BBL. Are we Filipinos mga idiots or without balls? Can we not follow what the Sri Lankans did to their long time rebels?

    • “…gagong Presidente bugok talaga…mga buwaya sa Kongreso sunodsunuran lang kay Abnoy dahil lang ba sa salapi?”

    • Don’t ever say we Filipinos are idiot. You should address that to yourself ONLY. idiot!

    • Maddflp..your comments shows how more idiots you are and the rest. HISTORY can tell us that all means for peace had been tried and it fails. Hopefully the so called BBL will work for them and for the whole country. If it fails the Mulims itself will get the blame with regards how they spend the money not for the certain few individuals but for the whole muslim community. If you have no suggestion how to solved the problem, then shut-up your senseless, full of hate and ignoramus comments.

    • To Erwin: Did I not tell or suggest that dapat i-unify muna ang lahat ng mga iba’t ibang rebels bago makipag-negotiate for peace? And then i questioned about the meddling of another country like Malaysian to our own internal problem. I, too, suggested following the example Sri Lankan government did to end the war with their rebels. What’s wrong with that, Sir Erwin? I know maybe you have better suggestions. Can you share also with us?

  28. This another blunder PNoy has been doing and seemering. PNoy cannot be trusted to do anything right. He is a psychopath endangering the stability and security of the Philipines and Filipinos.

    Junk BBL for forever.

  29. sonny dela cruz on

    Why the Filipino people doesn’t stand up against B.S. Aquino? Why the AFP doesn’t stand up against their commander in chief? Do they care? This involved the security of the country. B.S. Aquino is surrendering territories of the Philippines without even consulting the congress who has the jurisdiction on international decision. Malaysia is creating all this chaos in Mindanao. The President is more favoring Malaysia rather than the interest of the Republic of the Philippines and the Filipino people. The Congressmen and senators, majority of them are align with B.S. Aquino to violate the laws of the land and he the president is free to do whatever he wants to do like his own personal things. What is really happening to the Filipino people? What’s gonna happen to the country? I am so saddened how will this end.