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Commentary

Basic reforms needed to prevent civil unrest

/ 11:54 PM October 11, 2013

“Bangsamoro” is a model of genuine regional autonomy in a future federal republic.

After four decades of Moro unrest and rebellions, which have caused incalculable loss of lives and resources and painful displacements of peoples, the government is forging with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front a new political entity called the Bangsamoro.

The painstaking effort has been challenged by Nur Misuari’s secessionist “Bangsamoro Republic” and the crisis in Zamboanga City fomented by rebels belonging to his faction in the Moro National Liberation Front.

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The emerging Bangsamoro autonomous region has all the marks of a carefully and sensitively crafted peace-making and political reinvention of regional autonomy. It seeks to fully assert, respect and protect the legitimate and historic rights of our largest ethnic and cultural minority, the Moros, as well as the lumad and other people in the proposed Bangsamoro geographic area.

We look forward to the completion of the draft basic law by the Transition Commission and its passage by Congress by 2014, with the full endorsement of President Aquino. A vigorous nationwide campaign is in order to fully explain the great advantages to be gained by the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity.

But what is good for the people in Bangsamoro will be good for all other Filipinos. So the President, our other leaders and the people should realize that the genuine regional and local autonomy proposed for the people in Bangsamoro in the new basic law should also be granted to all other Filipinos. This calls for an amendment of our 1987 Constitution!

In fact, amending the Constitution will better ensure the adoption of the proposed Bangsamoro political entity in place of the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Otherwise, there may be widespread opposition to favoring only the people in Bangsamoro and discriminating against the great majority of other Filipino citizens in all the other ethnocultural and political-administrative regions in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. And for sure, some critics are bound to challenge the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro political entity at the Supreme Court.

It is high time our people were liberated from corrupt and unaccountable leaders and obsolete and dysfunctional institutions. It is also high time that we seriously considered replacing our corrupt, ineffective and unaccountable presidential form of government that we have had since 1946, with a superior parliamentary form that we have never tried—because of the vested interests of our political leaders in the old political system. In fact, most parliamentary governments have proved to be superior to presidential governments, as shown in the United Kingdom, The Federal Republic of Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia, and other countries.

Let’s avoid nationwide civil unrest. Given the nationwide political crisis being generated by the large-scale plunder of congressional pork barrel and the perceived abuse of the President’s discretionary funds, we may very well have civil unrest and a political upheaval sooner than we realize.

The President’s bosses are demanding basic reforms in politics and governance from their tarnished and now distrusted leaders. They want more than the abolition of the massive congressional pork barrel and the curtailment of the even larger presidential discretionary funds that have been gravely abused and corrupted.

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Let’s not provoke our enraged citizens into launching our largest “people power revolt” ever—against  President Aquino and Congress—if our citizens believe that their highest leaders are betraying the people’s trust. It shouldn’t be forgotten that many of our people felt betrayed during Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship, and the presidencies of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Dr. Jose V. Abueva (pepevabueva@gmail.com) is a professor of political science and public administration at the University of the Philippines, of which he was president in 1987-1993.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, civil unrest, Commentary, Jose V. Abueva, MILF, opinion, Zamboanga City crisis
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