Pass BBL in entirety …

The fate of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is now with Congress. This early, there are many ideas on how to proceed with it. Not to be outdone are those traditional oppositions to the proposed law, who are now starting to howl on top of their voice and throw every kind of punch including foul ones that stink.

But amid these wrangling, we are banking on the commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to pass the BBL and make it as template for federalism in this country.

The ultimate statement of commitment came during the submission of the BBL to the president on June 27, which, among other strong words, included the promise of putting up a “Moro country” in three years.

We are also relying on the general realization that the only viable option open for all of us is the pathway of peace. War will only bring chaos and destruction and lead us to nowhere. It should not be an option at all.

Be this as it may, we believe that the best option is for Congress to pass the proposed BBL in its entirety and let the Supreme Court handle the rest. This will save time, debate, and resources on the part of the government.

The proposal may sound weird to some people. To us, it comes from the purest of intention. It also emanates from earnest desire to prevent the repeat of what happened to the previous BBL during the 16th Congress. After much debate and wrangling, it did not pass at all.

Wonder of all wonders, the most raised question is about its constitutionality, when only the Supreme Court, as argued above, has the competence to make. This question was persistently raised, despite the strong argument of the 18 surviving members of the 1987 Constitutional Convention that the BBL is constitutional because it is about social justice.

We hope Congress will not by offended by this proposal. We appeal to their collective wisdom to consider this view.

The reason for this proposal is both practical and legalistic. Only the Supreme Court can rule with finality any question of constitutionality or unconstitutionality of any law, section or provision thereof. Even the best legal mind does not have such authority. So, why do we have to consume our time to something that is not final?

It is provided in separability clause of any law if any part thereof is declared unconstitutional, other sections or provisions, which are not affected by such declaration, shall continue to be in full force and effect.

It was firmly viewed that when the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) submitted the official copy of the BBL to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last June 27, nothing in it is deemed unconstitutional. Common sense would dictate that they would not be included at all.

In the current BTC, there are seven lawyer-commissioners, not to mention those lawyers or legal officers serving the 20 commissioners. The previous BTC had five lawyer-commissioners, and 14 lawyers or legal officers employed by the 14 remaining commissioners.

Some of these lawyers, if not all, are as competent as any other lawyer in this country. They know their law and they practice it religiously.