This week in May, the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would vote on its version of the proposed organic act, a crucial step that will determine whether the legislation will retain the most important of its original contents or instead a diluted concoction of autonomy. During this same week, the Senate’s Committee on Local Government chaired by Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. will hold public hearings on the BBL in Zamboanga City and Jolo. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the left-side proponent of the peace-making bill has urged Bongbong to atone for the offenses of his father, ex-Pres. Marcos, to the Moro people by finally submitting his edited BBL version that would be faithful to its original, as prepared last year by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). The sins of the fathers have long shadows it is said, but if Bongbong will accede to the MILF’s appeal it would probably be one where he heeds the urgent call of the nation, too.
For one, the pro-BBL sentiment is led by the Christian majority of Mindanao, which is somewhat strange because having suffered the harshest brunt of the Moro rebellion, they would instead be expected to demand an eye-for-an-eye retribution. Yet here are these Christians like Cardinal Quevedo extending the hand of reconciliation to their Muslim Mindanaoan compatriots, to let the dead bury the dead, and to move on. Indeed, a large percentage of Filipinos nurture a favourable perception towards Islam, according to the latest Social Weather Station survey, a fact which should inspire those who are seriously engaged in interfaith peace-building in Mindanao to continue with their long and hard mission.
On the other hand, the National Peace Council (NPC), which Pres. Aquino created and tasked to conduct public multi-sectoral consultations on the BBL, has in its final report also favorably endorsed it. Its most significant observations are the need for a liberal application of the Constitution by Congress when refining BBL and to grant maximum fiscal autonomy to the Bangsamoro government. The absence of fiscal autonomy in the present and outgoing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) made it politically impotent, a “failed experiment.” Without money and the power to spend it howsoever, the Bangsamoro entity will be another mendicant caricature of autonomy, and beggars can never ever be choosers.
If a full-strength BBL shall pass, as it must by the standard of peace-making for Mindanao, it shall moreover be a milestone in the changing landscape of the nation. It will not only liberate the Moros from the lingering oppressions of erstwhile foreign colonialism but also from its native descendant elitist regime and its endless depredations. Political iconoclast and Mindanao son Rodrigo Duterte has been railing against Manila imperialism as reason enough for Mindanao to freak out and become a self-governing federal state. On the other hand, the mounting requirements for economic viability and growth, for escape from massive poverty, is also driving the nation towards an era of political liberalization to release more of the people’s energy.
By championing the BBL and the political sea-change it could bring forth in southern Philippines, Pres. Aquino is opening the floodgates of the nation’s new future, of a really New Society that Bongbong’s father once upon bandied before a nation shackled by his Martial Law. It was to be, according to his once middle-class father, a “revolution from the center”. As a study in personal contrast of political leaders contesting to make history, it could take the son of an oligarch class that Bongbong’s father wanted to destroy, Pres. Aquino, to finally make the same revolution happen, but one which is a “revolution from the south”. Even the Armed Forces of the Philippines have come out of its trenches to raise the banner of the BBL. (ZABIDA)