(IN PHOTO)- MILF PIP Chair Mohagher Iqbal speaking to participants during the Forum on the Role of Bangsamaoro Youth in Pursuit of Peace in Mindanao in Zamboanga City

Federalism and the proposed Bangsamoro Government

When President Rodrigo R. Duterte assumed the presidency, he directed his cabinet, and lawmakers to navigate on his peace agenda on two tracks. First track is the shift of government from unitary to federal and the second track is the peace deal with NDF/ CCP - NPA and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

While the government is pursuing the federal form of government through charter change and mass movement for federalism, majority of the Bangsamoro people are adamant and apprehensive considering that there is a peace deal between the government and the MILF for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity, and afraid that the shift might affect their aspiration.      

For purposes of understanding federalism, it is a form of government where sovereignty is constitutionally shared between a governing authority and constituent political units called states or regions.     

There are some groups espousing to hold in abeyance the establishment of Bangsamoro entity until such time a federal shift is in place. The question is till when and what guarantee do they have that the initiative will materialized.

MILF on their part is not against federalism. It is only a matter of sequence. BBL first before federalism as what Bangsamoro CSO's are saying. Establish Bangsamoro entity first through the passage of BBL then federalism.

 As what President Duterte said, " We can use Bangsamoro government as a template for federalism."     

While is it true that federalism may address many issues confronting the government but it is national in its scope. Bangsamoro people have a distinct identity, ethnicities and faith that only the passage of BBL could address all of these.

MILF Chair of Peace Implementing Panel Mohagher Iqbal has been emphasizing that, " Federalism could solve the entire problems of people in the country, while the BBL can solve the Bangsamoro question on right to self - determination."

 It is argued that the shifting to federal government from unitary government will take more time considering that there are factors to be considered in this initiative i.e. process of charter change either constituent assembly or constitutional convention, federal model to follow, organizational structure,  budgetary requirements in setting up and many more.

Bangsamoro Basic Law is already filed in Congress and the MILF leadership reiterated their call to all stakeholders to support it and appealed to all Bangsamoro people to unite for common good.