Renewed hope!

When all clear hopes for the passing of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress were fading comes the news that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had finally certified it as urgent bill. This gives renewed hope and vigour for those who almost gave up on hoping that the BBL would really make it during the second year of this administration.

Certifying a bill as urgent means its movement in Congress will be expedited. It takes shorter time for it to be passed as laws, as opposed to bills that are not.

Be this as it may, the real issue here is not that the BBL passes into law. There is little or no doubt at all about the commitment of President Duterte to deliver it to our people. It is the quality of the law that concerns us most. For it to solve the Bangsamoro Question or Problem, it must be compliant to the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Any diluting or downgrading is like prescribing the wrong medicine to an illness. Instead of curing it, the illness will deteriorate further that may cause the death of the patient.

The real issue is whether the law to be enacted by Congress will establish a real autonomous entity for the Bangsamoro people – or not. We hope everybody is fully aware of this!

The CAB, as explained above, contained the political solution to the Bangsamoro Question or Problem which the government and MILF have tried to find in their 17 long and harsh years of negotiations. But the CAB, as well as the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), is a political document and therefore cannot implement it directly such a political solution. This must be done through legislation which will be an act of government.

The truth is that any legislation that does not establish a real autonomous setup for the Bangsamoro people is a misdirected effort.

In this regard, anything less than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) or equal to it is also a misdirected effort. Time and again, the MILF has made clear its position on this: The autonomy law (BBL) must be higher and better than the ARMM.

Fully cognisant of the plenary power of Congress over legislation, we do not expect it to pass the BBL without some changes. But we appeal and hope that these changes must hinge on the principles of enhancement and improvement. Nothing of such thing as diluting it. After all, the purpose of the BBL is to solve the Bangsamoro Question or Problem through the establishment of a real and genuine autonomy.

What therefore is real autonomy?

Autonomy refers to the capacity and right of a country or other jurisdiction to govern itself. The term, autonomous comes from the Greek word, autonomous, meaning auto - “self” and nomos - “law” respectively. In political, moral, and bio-ethical philosophy, it is explained as the capability of an entity to make an informed, unforced decision.

Moreover, according to the Free Dictionary, autonomy, in a political sense, is limited self-government, short of independence, of a political state or, more frequently, of a subdivision. The term is also used for other self-governing units, such as a parish, a corporation, or a religious sect. A test of autonomy is the recognition that the group may make the rules governing its internal affairs. Political autonomy is frequently based on cultural and ethnic differences.