Is new Bangsamoro Transition Commission necessary? | Inquirer Opinion

Is new Bangsamoro Transition Commission necessary?

Recently President Duterte led the launch of a new Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in a colorful ceremony in Davao City. The launch was attended by Moro leaders of note but Nur Misuari, the founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front, was conspicuously absent. Naysayers noted that the body tasked to draft a revised Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was off to a rocky start. It was, after all, touted as  more inclusive than the past commission, with its membership expanded to accommodate nominations from other sectors, like the MNLF-Misuari faction that was left out by the past administration.

Setting aside that issue, we ask: Is the new BTC necessary? What is its raison d’etre?  Pardon my myopia but I don’t see any fundamental area of concern which the old BTC missed to address.


Government propagandists say the new commission will rid the draft BBL of its constitutional infirmities. But who decided that the BBL was in violation of the Constitution—the opportunist-politicians in Congress? Which provisions run afoul of the Constitution?  Excuse me, but critics are parroting the line of those parties against peace, which prejudged the BBL without the benefit of a ruling from any tribunal or competent body.

What happened to the jurisprudential principle of constitutional flexibility? Recall that the draft BBL did not pass the gauntlet of Congress because it was trapped in the cobweb of grandstanding by politician-candidates who conveniently rode on the issue to court votes. It was rejected more for political and emotional than legal reasons, compounded by the tragedy at Mamasapano.


Don’t get me wrong. I am not averse to the creation of a new BTC. I am certain that President Duterte and Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza have the best of intentions. The President, a Moro by blood, is just being true to his election campaign promise made at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Camp Darapanan. And for the record, the new members of the BTC comprise the best and brightest minds in the South, with impeccable academic credentials and capabilities as well as uncompromising Moro nationalism. I am optimistic that whatever comes out of their labor will be an improvement from the old BTC.

But for the sake of academic discussion, because the issue could be now water under the bridge, we ask: Why can’t we wait for federalism to materialize? Recall the wisdom of the remarks of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez when asked about the draft BBL: He said it would be reverted to the back burner, to be subsumed by federalism.

Given the administration’s firm control of Congress—remember the passage in record time of the death penalty bill in the House of Representatives—there is no doubt that federalism will be adopted. What remains to be debated on is the kind of federalism we should adopt. If we adopt, for example, the federal-presidential type of government as in the United States, why can’t we leave it to the Bangsamoro State Legislature to define the powers of the autonomous state? By then, the Moro people can directly participate in crafting the bill and will no longer be stymied in an unsympathetic Congress which has Moro representation of a mere 5 percent.

Maybe, just maybe, that was the reason Misuari preferred to skip the ceremony.

I refuse to believe that the government is playing tricks again with the Moro people and resorting to the old clever ploy of talking instead of shooting, or, in basketball, dribbling the ball to kill time without  intending to solve the conundrum—and let the next administration inherit the headache.

We await with bated breath the results of the efforts of the new commission, which is now being promoted as the panacea for everything that ails the Moro.


Macabangkit B. Lanto ([email protected]), UP Law 1967, was a Fulbright Fellow at New York University. He is a former assemblyman/speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Autonomous Region 12, congressman, ambassador to Egypt/Sudan, and undersecretary of tourism and of justice.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, Bangsamoro Transition Commission, BBL, BTC, Duterte, Moro, Muslim, opinion
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