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Monday, March 16, 2015

Why the mad rush for BBL?


ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas
Bangsamoro-flagIf there’s one word to describe President Aquino at this time, it is “driven.” He is so driven in achieving peace in Mindanao as his six-year tenure’s legacy to the country, he is pushing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at all costs, even at the expense of being stopped cold again by the Supreme Court or virtually giving up sovereignty over a portion of the Philippines.
The brutal killing of 44 Special Action Forces (SAF) policemen by rebel forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with whom he has forged an agreement to share sovereignty in a big slice of Mindanao ostensibly for the sake of peace, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has not deterred him from pushing his obviously flawed peace program in Mindanao.
The nationwide anger that followed the massacre and demands for his resignation has not deterred him from rallying his allies in Congress to pass the BBL. Neither have threats of coup and a new people power at EDSA.
Charges of treason and possible impeachment have not deterred him from asking Congress to pass the constitutionally infirm BBL measure by June 11, obviously to enable him to boast of the “achievement” of peace in that troubled region in his last State-of-the-Nation address in July before he turns over the presidency to his successor on June 30, 2016.
Objections from both sides of the aisle in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have not deterred him from pursuing his supposed legacy of peace. Aquino wouldn’t even listen to warnings about violating the Constitution or placing too much trust in the MILF despite the treacherous murder of the 44 policemen.
It appears he is even willing to accept the lies of the MILF hierarchy that the SAF officers were to blame for the tragedy because they carried out their mission of going after fugitive terrorists Zulkipli bin Hir alias Marwan and Basit Usman in MILF territory without informing the MILF as if the rebel group already has sovereignty over the region even without the enabling law.
It also appears that Aquino is even willing to lie not only to escape responsibility for the fatal fiasco, but also to remove the blame from the MILF.
Even the government’s negotiating panel has become the most ardent defenders of the MILF in the debate over the proposed Bangsamoro law, with chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer saying that “no BBL is better than a mangled BBL,” which echoes the demand of MILF chief negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal that Congress should not impose conditions for its approval.
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte rebuked her, insisting that the House of Representatives will not be a party to a constitutionally flawed BBL being pushed by the government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Our obligation is to the Constitution. As long as we have a Constitution we have to abide by it,” Belmonte said. “They (lawmakers) are not dummies who can be led around.”
Aquino, Ferrer and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles are under fire from lawmakers and militant groups for “railroading” the BBL despite what they said were constitutional infirmities.
Among the infirmities pointed out by former Rep. Homobono Adaza and Herman Tiu Laurel in their treason charges against Aquino and others, as enumerated by Rod Kapuna in his column in the Manila Standard are:
a) For violating Article I of the Constitution, much that the approval of the BBL would grant the MILF a defined territory with sovereign powers; b) For violating Section 1, Article II because the BBL seeks to establish Islam as an official religion contrary to our democratic and republic form of government; c) For violating Article II of the Constitution about the sanctify of the family to which Islam promotes polygamy and divorce; d) For violating Section 20, Article II which seeks to develop a self-reliant economy controlled by Filipinos much that the MILF is funded by a foreign power; e) For violating Section 8, Article III of the Constitution because it seeks to establish Islam as the official religion in their proposed area; g) For violating Section 5 of Article VII of the Constitution for failing to observe his oath of allegiance which states to quote: “to preserve and defend the constitution, execute the laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the nation”; h) And for violating Article X of the constitution much that there is no other autonomous regions, except the autonomous regions of Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras or much more, allowing the creation of a new state called Bangsamoro.
The BBL even offers a P75-billion lump sum in the first year of the Bangsamoro entity that does not need scrutiny by Congress or the Commission on Audit and free from guidelines by the Department of Budget and Management. This amount is much bigger than those appropriated by the national government to any province or region, much to the consternation of local officials.
The resulting Bangsamoro entity will become a virtual sub-state with its own security force, audit agency, civil service body, parliament, seaport, Islam as official religion, a defined territory, and a shariah court whose decisions are final, among others.
The biggest question is why? Why is Aquino so obsessed with finalizing the peace agreement with the passage of the BBL despite all the political obstacles, the constitutional infirmities, the risks, the threats to the nation’s sovereignty, and the danger of an even bigger war in Mindanao?
The American patriot Patrick Henry, in a historic speech before the House of Burgesses on March 23, 1775 in an effort to convince the House to mobilize for military action against the advancing British forces, cried: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chain and slavery?”
Filipinos can also ask, in less dramatic fashion, “Is peace so sweet, or Aquino’s desired legacy and Nobel Peace Prize aspirations so dear as to be purchased at the price of 44 lawmen’s lives and our nation’s sovereignty?”
(valabelgas@aol.com)

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