No mention of BBL

It almost impossible to know the intention of people especially when they utter something. Actions only reflect it but not necessarily true in all occasions. It is not even a clone of it. People can hide what is in their minds by saying or doing another thing.

In his 30-minute speech, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte never mentioned the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the Bangsamoro Assembly on November 27 held at the Maguindanao Old Provincial Capitol in Sultan Kudarat. Many eyebrows were raised. This was the first comment made by so many of the participants immediately after the president left the assembly late in the afternoon.

 The question is “why”? Was it deliberately omitted or there was a lapse of memory?  Is it not that the assembly was precisely convened by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in order to showcase that there is overwhelming popular support for the passage of the BBL? And to make it more forceful the president was made the guest of honour?

The president spoke impromptu, not from his prepared speech as he usually does in many occasions. If it was a lapse then that was probably the reason. (We do not know, however, if the word BBL appeared in the written speech which he did not read).

But to us whether he mentioned BBL or not does not matter much! What matter is that before the midterm election in 2019 a good BBL should be enacted into law by Congress. We anxiously wait for this. Beyond this year, the chance of BBL made into law is virtually nil. The focus of decision-makers especially politicians would be the presidential elections in 2022.

However, there were at least two concrete ideas that he had made categorically clear in his speech: The preservation of the Filipino republic and to correct a historical injustice (committed against the Moro people; and asking Congress to hold a special session for a day or two to address the concerns of the MILF chaired by Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and MNLF chaired by Nur Misuari. No mention of MNLF faction chair Yusoph Jikiri.

In the beginning of his speech, he clearly stated that he is addressing the entire Filipino people and, as president, it is understandable that his speeches are dotted with “constructed ambiguities” which critics described as “rhetoric”.

The truth is it is very hard to be the head of state. One will never be bankrupt of enemies or to say the least, critics. If he or she makes the correct decision, the crooks will attack him; if he or she makes the wrong decision, the conscience-guided will denounce him or her.

We still trust President Duterte! Let there be no mistake about it. We hold on to his promise made before and now he is the president that he would make the BBL as template for federalism in this country. We also hold on to his oft-repeated declaration that there is nothing that can appease the Moros if the BBL is not given to them.

These promises are sacred! We hope to see them unfolding starting now!