No to grandstanding!

The Senate Sub-Committee on BBL headed by Senator Miguel Zubiri is slated to hold its consultation in Zamboanga City on February 9 after their stints for the same purpose in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan. While this is laudable, because it is part and parcel of a democratic process, but if this is used only by the city’s politicians for grandstanding and to promote their selfish political agenda, then it defeats the very purpose.

To recall, on February 12, 2014 the first Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) decided to jumpstart their consultations in Western Mindanao by trying to pay a courtesy call to Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and the City Council. But instead of getting a warm welcome, they were “booed”” and “snubbed” by pro-Climaco crowd. No one from the authorities including the lady mayor tried to stop the rowdy crowd or to remind them of proper decorum. Even in warfare, emissary of the “enemy” has to be accorded proper protocol. Exceptions were those who were harmed or insulted by the hosts which in many instances resulted in declaration of wars.

To us, there is no use hearing the views of both City Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar-Climaco and Congressman Celso Lobregat. It is a waste of time and resources. Their views and stands have always been known as negative against the BBL.

Honestly, however, we do not fault them for opposing the inclusion of Zamboanga City in the future Bangsamoro political entity. It is their prerogative to choose not to be part of it.  We fully respect that.

But what we dislike is any deliberate act of suppressing freedom of speech and choice. Zamboanga City is not their exclusive domain. They are just politicians who are both eyeing fiercely for the mayorship of the city in 2019 elections. Both are using the issue of BBL and exclusion of Zamboanga City as their passports – in fact, their most lethal weapons -- to ensure their entry into the city hall. But in the end, only one will snare it. (If there is no other stronger contender).

Frankly speaking, the MILF wants a smaller territory where there is real autonomy granted to it. Zamboanga City, while it was once the capital of the Moro Province, is not in its radar.

But the Moros in Zamboanga City number one third or at least one fourth of the population but they occupied most of the lands especially in the suburbs. Thus, they deserved to be asked. This is their inalienable right. The two politicians must recognize and accede to this constitutional right.  

While this decision to hold this hearing is not entirely an idea coming from the Senate, because Lobregat requested for it (Sunstar, February 9), the Senators especially Miguel Zubiri should be appreciated and praised for giving way to it. This is to hear all voices and sides in a debate.

Be that as it may, we still hope that Climaco and Lobregat extend all the necessary courtesies to the Senators and also refrain from repeating the same mistreatment accorded to the previous commissioners of the BTC.