Key Bangsamoro details to find way into basic law
This is in reaction to former Court of Appeals justice Mario Guariña III’s commentary titled “A prelude to secession?” (Opinion, 1/3/14).
I would like to assure the good justice that we can expect that the details that are not found in the signed documents providing for the creation of the Bangsamoro (Framework Agreement and the Annexes on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, and Power Sharing) will find their way in the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL. As of this writing, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission—the body tasked by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiating panels, and created by Executive Order No. 120, series 2012, to draft the BBL—is conducting their consultations with experts and stakeholders to aid them in coming up with actual provisions for the draft BBL. This draft may, in fact, be longer than Republic Act No. 9054, or the current ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) organic act, as there are matters dealt with in the Framework Agreement and the Annexes which are not contained in the existing law. The draft will then be submitted to Congress to undergo the usual processes for legislation. It will be remembered that the first Organic Act for ARMM (RA 6734, the predecessor of the current ARMM organic act) went through the same course—from a separate commission writing the first draft and submitting the same to Congress, to the Congress processing the draft for legislative enactment.
The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Annexes are in the nature of political documents that contain the basic and, mostly, novel principles that would govern the establishment of the Bangsamoro. Rather than RA 9054, they are more comparable to other peace agreements entered into by our and other governments. Neither the government nor the MILF expect these to contain all the ideals for governance especially when they are already enshrined elsewhere, such as the Constitution. It is with this in mind that the parties committed to a process that would entail the passage of the BBL in full consciousness that this will be passed under the operation of the 1987 Constitution. Thus, essential provisions such as the separation of church and state, upholding the powers of constitutional bodies, requirements for qualification into office of public officers, general supervision of the president over all local governments, etc., were no longer spelled out.
We thank the justice for his insights on the peace process. We take this opportunity to reaffirm the instruction of President Aquino to the government negotiators to work within the flexibilities of the Constitution in coming up with the comprehensive peace agreement for the Bangsamoro. The administration is committed to bestowing genuine autonomy on the Bangsamoro—a political settlement that is envisioned to put paid to the decades-long conflict in the South—as it is mindful of the territorial integrity of the country.
—ANNA TARHATA BASMAN,
head, Legal Team ,
Government Negotiating Panel,
Office of the Presidential Adviser
on the Peace Process,
Ortigas Center, Pasig City
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