Acceptance or rejection?

On July 9, the bicameral conference committee will finalize the version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and after which on July 23 before or during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will sign it into law.

Four months or 120 days thereafter, a plebiscite shall be conducted for its ratification by the electorates of the proposed Bangsamoro territory. Once ratified, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is “deemed abolished” and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) shall be organized immediately as the executive and legislative authority in the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous entity.

However, based on the Senate and House versions of the BBL, it is very difficult to say what decision MILF Central Committee is going to make: to accept or reject a BBL just above the current ARMM.

In this regard, to make the BBL clearly more than the ARMM is very simple. All those powers that were given or devolved to ARMM must be given or transferred to the new Bangsamoro political entity, and then, to borrow the words of one senator, “plus, plus ….” This will give rise to a real autonomous entity.

Th truth is that both options, acceptance or rejection, are laden with unfathomable complications or problems. Chances that either option will only worsen the situation in Mindanao.

Indeed, it is not an easy decision on the part of the MILF. In this regard, consultation with the people is necessary. The pulse of the people must be given way. Above all, prayers for guidance from ABOVE is needed.

However, if what emerges from the conference is lower than the ARMM or just like it, it is easy for the MILF to decide. We cannot accept a diluted BBL. That is tantamount to capitulation.

Right now, frankly we do not know what is in the offing re: BBL. The only consolation is that most of the members of the committee (18 from the House and 10 from the Senate) are for the resolution of the conflict in Mindanao. They are also known for their fairness in dealing with people including the Moros of Mindanao.

However, three members of the committee from the House are known enemy of the BBL right from the start. They have not softened up even after President Duterte certified the proposed bill as urgent on May 30. The two legislators are fighting tooth and nail to ensure the continued stay of his family in power and control of resources in their province. The third one is opposing for the sake of opposing; he finds comfort and happiness if Moros are suffering, courtesy of his distorted sense of history. It is racism at work and at its best, if not a religious bigotry! 

Be this as it may, we will continue to hope and pray for a good BBL after the conference. This is our gut feeling!  We feel many people share this positive outlook.

We are adopting this positive point of view on the premise that only a real autonomous Bangsamoro entity can serve the best interest of all. A weak one will only invite, like a disease, more complications. More so, frustrations will increase manifold.