Pushing too hard for BBL’s passage


“Even if the bicameral committee passes the BBL, as wished by Duterte, there will still be constitutional snags.”

President Duterte is pushing much too hard for the early passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), bringing up the dire scenario of the government facing a backlash from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the main beneficiary of the BBL, should this bill not be passed. In the event his promise is not kept, Duterte also fears other Moro insurgents may join up with the Islamic State (IS) terrorists.

To quote the President: “If we cannot pass the BBL, then I’ll have…I’d be facing so many fronts. I’d be facing the Moro insurgency. There’s the mainline Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), MILF, then I’ll be facing a more serious and brutal enemy, and that’s the Islamic State.”

Whether or not the dire warning is a Palace’s ploy to get the bicameral committee to quickly pass the BBL and for the President to sign the bill into law, Malacañang should not portray itself as being easily cowed by threats from the MILF-MNLF combined joining up with the IS terrorists since it would be giving the Moro group too many opportunities to demand from the President more and more than what he and the Congress can give or deliver, by way of promises and agreements.

“But I’m talking to the BBL’s Murad (Ebrahim) and I’m just hoping that… I’m asking for the grace from Allah that something good will come out of this. It is not in Congress,” Duterte said.

“And Murad is just also biding his time, well and good, we hope that someday we can have peace at last,” he added.

The fact is, even if the bicameral committee passes the BBL, as wished by Duterte, there will still be constitutional snags, depending on what the BBL contains by way of, say, the setting up of a parliamentary government under a still presidential system, among other probable unconstitutional terms and objectionable conditions under the BBL.

It has happened before and it will happen again.

“Militias certainly can be formed by the MILF.”

It is almost certain that once the BBL gets the okay of the Bicameral Committee and is quickly signed into law, this BBL will be challenged before the Supreme Court on questions of its constitutionality — of course depending on what provisions are contained in the approved BBL.

It is, however, probable that this latest version of the BBL will hardly be too different from the past BBL and Memorandum of Agreements questioned before the High Court as the MILF is known to insist on having too many government powers under a claimed autonomous region, over which the MILF, which claims to represent the Moro people, is expected to reign.

The MILF supposedly agreed not to press on with its own police force that would be under its total control, without any need to be a part of the Philippine National Police.

This was reportedly given up by the MILF in talks with the government peace negotiators for the BBL to pass constitutional muster.

Perhaps. But would the other provisions in the BBL pass constitutional scrutiny? After all, it is not only an independent police force that is being questioned, which the MILF negotiators said was dropped for the BBL to have an easier path to get the BBL approved.

There is also the problem of a BBL passed into law, which virtually amends the Constitution, due to the fact that the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is a constitutional provision in the 1987 Charter and cannot be abolished and replaced by a mere enacted law since provisions in the 1987 Constitution cannot just be amended through a legislative measure.

If mere laws can amend constitutional provisions ratified by the electorate, then there is no need for the Charter Provisions stating that only Congress can amend the Constitution with the required constitutional vote from all its members.

Also, in a scenario where the MILF would be lording it over the Bangsamoro autonomous region, what then is to stop the MILF in control of the region, but not in total control of the police force?
Militias certainly can be formed by the MILF to serve whatever purposes it has in mind.
There is also that possibility of firefights erupting between the two Moro factions—the MNLF and the MILF, which would bode ill for the Bangsamoro region.

And the worst case scenario that can face the government may not even be the proliferation of the IS terrorists, but that in time, with more powers, the MILF will move to secede from the Philippines and even get the whole of Mindanao. That is once the MILF gets its military hardware including the latest firearms and attack helicopters and even submarines from the Islamic countries that will only be too willing to help its Muslim brothers’ dream of independence through secession.