WOMENWISE| Bangsamoro Basic Law:The case for passing it into law now

I HAVE always believed that laws get passed by people in power. In practical terms, legislators will want to promote a legislation that is also popular with their constituents. Early on, as Mindanaons, we were confident of a national constituency for peace until the Mamasapano tragedy happened.

What are the emerging oppositions to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law(BBL)? In general, it is that some think that it is doubtful whether the BBL will bring peace. In particular, some legal experts have questioned whether the BBL does not in fact violate the Constitution.

We (my organization) have worked in Muslim communities for almost three decades and we have participated, studied and promoted the language and meaning of the peace agreement and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL is the social infrastructure for how policies, programs and changes will permeate the villages. The BBL is an evolved autonomy structure. I adopt the view of Justice Marvic Leonen (who worked with us, then, in the Alternative Law Groups) that the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) or the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which was used as basis for the BBL is not unconstitutional.

The BBL is the framework for how the Bangsamoro legislature (now ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly) will craft more enabling policies & programs for village levels. I have read the entire BBL. There is a sense now that perhaps it would have been ideal if Marwan was pursued when the decommissioning was already done. But also, that it was a hot pursuit operation that was time sensitive because of the risk that the target could escape. Still, there is no point in making Mamasapano the excuse for not going ahead with reforming the law on autonomy in Muslim Mindanao through the BBL.

Certainly, it is not right that the faces projected of the so called terrorists are that of our Muslims brothers. As our mantra, we say that there is no one homogeneous Muslim world. Just because there are international organizations misusing religious symbols for supremacy and perhaps in cahoots with unlawful elements in the Philippines should not result to abandoning the reforms for autonomy in Mindanao.

Yes, we should listen to all the voices and the narrative of their opposition to the BBL.Reforms through the legislative track takes forever and that is why peace activists are banking on the political chance that it would happen in this administration. Otherwise, we may never have this chance again. It is all right that citizen taxpayers are enlisting as stakeholders but denying the Bangsamoro their dream of social, economic and political development is like reproducing the centuries’ old marginalization and minoritization again and again and for the past forty years.

One specific opposition to the BBL for now is the mistaken notion that the Bangsamoro entity is another state within a state. The Bangsamoro is a political subdivision much likes provinces or cities or regions which define the metes and bounds of their areas or boundaries. Another opposition is based on the kind of governance which is akin to a ministerial or parliamentary form. The constitution is clear on this when it provided that “the organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department & legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units.” And our head of state or the President “exercises general supervision” over the Bangsamoro.

Let us agree that the BBL should also be able to respond to issues of security and the global anti-terror campaign. Would it not be more efficient if the more than ten thousand strong MILF armed militia when the decommissioning will have happened will be able to help the state in this fight against terror?

Where do we go from here? I hope peace advocates will adopt these concrete proposals from Edna Aquino, a feminist sage and I quote, “The major challenges confronting the peace advocacy are in various fronts now: how to address the public’s subjective, not necessarily well informed concerns & how to engage with those opposed to the negotiated peace with the MILF but are not necessarily right wing or anti-peace. Then, there is the third front: the ones calling for the withdrawal, all out war who are a minority but are the noisiest & very potent because they touch on the raw nerves of the public vis a vis Mamasapano.”

Women Write – http://isabelitasolamo.blogspot.com

Posted in Opinion