• Why limit perks, powers to Bangsamoro? Federalize!


    THE debates on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law should serve as forum, a fulcrum even, for the long-delayed shift to a federal form of government.

    The Aquino administration can’t convince the nation to agree to the grant of its own parliament, police force, fiscal privileges and even its own prime minister to the Bangsamoro autonomous region without explaining why it can’t grant the same to other people in other regions. It should explain why this is good for the Bangsamoro but not for others.

    It seems no such explanation is forthcoming and there could only be one reason – it can’t justify the omission of other regions in such a grant. If it says the rebellion or secessionist movement has impelled the grant of a liberal dose of powers, wealth and privileges to the Bangsamoro that will give those from other regions the incentive to mount similar moves against the central government.

    Many legal experts are questioning the constitutionality of a parliamentary form of government for the Bangsamoro substate. No such question will arise if the Constitution is amended. The only way to “spread the sunshine,” to make other regions enjoy similar powers, is by shifting to a federal form of government, be it parliamentary or presidential. If a federal-parliamentary government is good enough for the political and economic development of the Bangsamoro, then it should also be good enough for the other regions.

    Several legal experts are questioning the constitutionality of establishing a parliamentary form of government in the substate of Bangsamoro thru the Bangsamoro Basic Law, or Babala as former Sen. Kit Tatad calls it. No such legal question will arise if the Constitution is amended to provide for a federal form of government. Many congressmen, especially from the Visayas and Mindanao and the poorer regions of Luzon, are for such a shift. In the previous Congress, they sought to include Charter Change on the list of priorities. It didn’t move an inch because of opposition from the Malacañang tenant. I hope our lawmakers will now use the questions on the constitutionality of the Babala as leverage to press for constitutional amendments.

    But why a federal form of government? I’ve been blessed to be covering the Senate where I heard intellectual giants debate on the merits of federalism. Former Senate President Nene Pimentel, who has been clamoring for federalism since the ’80s, believes that the shift to a federal government provides the comprehensive solution to the Mindanao problem

    “There will always be Muslims in Mindanao who will defy and take up arms against the government unless the government adopts a comprehensive solution in the form of the establishment of a federal system.

    “Muslim rebel leaders, ulamas, academicians, young people and leaders of nongovernment organizations suggested that the only solution that will work is the one that will respect their culture and identity as a people, which is the adoption of a federal system,” Pimentel said.

    I recall that Nene decided to run under the Senate ticket of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004 only after FPJ had agreed to include the shift to a federal form of government in his platform. It might interest readers to know that then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also had a similar platform, as did candidates Ramon V. Mitra, Fidel V. Ramos, Danding Cojuangco, Erap Estrada and Jose de Venecia in earlier presidential campaigns.

    Nene’s campaign for federalism is now being continued by his son, Sen. Koko Pimentel. Senator Koko echoed Nene’s brief that peace in Mindanao can only be permanently attained by adopting a federal system of government

    “Federalism will prevent the dismemberment of the country while providing the Bangsamoro a legal and political structure to preserve its own culture and identity,” he said.

    A clearer rationale for the shift is contained in the joint resolution Nene filed in the First Regular Session of the 14th Congress. That resolution sought to convene Congress into a constituent assembly to propose the shift by amending the Constitution. It said in part:

    “The concentration of such enormous power in Manila has created only one center of finance and development in the country resulting in a highly centralized system of govt.

    “The highly centralized system of government has brought about a spotty development of the nation where presidential treatment has been given to localities whose officials are friendly with or have easy access to an incumbent administration.

    “This lopsided arrangement has spawned a host of problems including massive nationwide poverty to runaway insurgencies and rebellions that feed on the societal inequalities in the nation.”

    The joint resolution, signed by 15 senators, didn’t make any headway because of fears that it would result in the extension of GMA’s term. There are no such fears today under the Aquino administration. Let the debates begin.

    FB: Efren Limos Danao


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. The MNLF knows the MILF intimately. Read what they are saying:
      ” Ang BBL, according to MILF, kung hindi raw maipasa ang pag grant ng PH Govt ng territory ng Islamic State, gyera. Pag maipasa na, kung hindi ma-expand ang territory, gyera. Kailan matatpos ang pananakot ng MILF ng gyera?

      If the BBL is approved, the bombings, terrorisms, ambushes, armed conflict will become endless in Bangsamoro area as the terrorists and police becomes one organization. These MILF’s dirty tactics pressuring will not stop because the BBL wants an “infinitely expandable” territory. We dont know when the expansion will end, maybe from a few province they will creep gradually until they get entire Mindanao, or even Visayas, or Luzon.


    2. Andami Tanga on

      Karamihan sa mga Pilipino ay hindi nag iisip. e-claim ba naman ang Sabah. Please lang….mag isip isip…eh ang mga Moro nga ayaw sa Pilipinas how much more ang mga Sabahans. Please read history…although part sila ng Sultanate of Sulu pero they chose to join Malaysia which made them Malaysians. Hndi lahat ng tao sa Sabah ay Tausug at Sama. May ibang tribu din….

    3. Vicente Penetrante on

      Federalism is reverting to our barangay system before the Spaniards came. Regionalism will be more pronounced, including the resurgence of various dialects. Soon, the federal states will be warring with each other, like the various tribes in Mindanao cannot agree who will be the boss. Please study the pros and cons of federalism carefully, if that can erase the rise of insurgencies like the NPA, MILF, BIFF, JIM and others.

    4. I’m for peace but let’s put this BBL on hold until the constitutionality issue of such a law is resolved. This govt must open its door for debates on federalism, support charter change through a constituent assembly and have the draft presented to the people for approval in 2016

    5. Kasalanan lahat ito ng Malaysia dahil mayaman sila sa pera ng langis kaya yung claim sa Sabah ay talagang pinuprotektahan. Lets get even with Malaysia.They even had a war games with China.

    6. The BBL provides for a Parliamentary system of government for Bangsamoro. If MILF’s party wins the most parliamentary seats in the 2016 election, what will be the title of the MILF’s leader Murad – Prime Minister? But this title sounds like the title of the head of a foreign government. Isn’t it funny that one day, Prime Minister Murad of Bangsamoro will be meeting with the President of the Philippines as if they are equal?

      If the Philippines could grant federalism to the substate Bangsamoro, why can’t the other provinces of the Philippines have federalism too?

      • Sir: The bill says the title of the Bangsamoro leader will be Chief Minister. This is exactly as in Malaysia, which the British created.

    7. The time of the reasons advanced by former Sen. Pimentel must have come. It would be fair, equitable, proper and legal for other regions to have the same rights and privileges. For one thing, the land areas can be well-defined. Every state would be equal as far as the central government. is concerned. Not all of of our Muslim brothers groups are amendable to the Bangsamoro, after all. Ergo: Federalism must be the answer!