Political haste makes waste | Inquirer Opinion

Political haste makes waste

/ 12:04 AM July 14, 2014

The Inquirer has reported that Malacañang radically revised the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and returned it to its authors. But President Aquino nevertheless assured Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Murad Ebrahim of a Bangsamoro region by 2016 (Front Page, 7/6/14).

A previous Inquirer editorial expressed deep disappointment that the BBL draft was not submitted by Malacañang to Congress before its adjournment last month, fearing that the delay might prejudice the holding of the Bangsamoro plebiscite that will follow the enactment of the BBL (Opinion,  6/5/14).

The editorial was misplaced. Why should Malacañang “rush” the bill to Congress in the midst of strong and valid criticisms on the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro accord? Who would not appreciate the position of presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda that Malacañang, as the main sponsor of the bill, wanted to be sure that the Bangsamoro would not be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court?

Indeed, why should Congress be stampeded to enact the BBL in the face of devastating “preliminary” comments from the head of the Philippine Constitution Association, veteran lawyer Manuel Lazaro, on almost all the substantive issues of the Bangsamoro accord; the views of constitutionalists, like Fr. Joaquin Bernas, especially on Bangsamoro territory, and Miriam Defensor Santiago on the “substate” Bangsamoro; and why not refute the position of retired Court of Appeals justice Mario Guariña III that the accord would lead to the Bangsamoro’s ultimate secession from the republic?

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We ourselves have mentioned the apparent unconstitutionality of other

vital matters, like the “ministerial” form of the Bangsamoro, municipal “territorial waters,” vague decommissioning of arms, the grant of “reparations” and subsidies, predominance of the Bangsamoro over the national government on issues like foreign affairs and defense.

Our last point is, by naively agreeing that Malaysia broker the Philippine government-MILF negotiations, we allowed it to consolidate and quiet its title over Sabah. Our politeness borders on masochism. The MILF was gleefully silent and President Aquino was fawningly grateful to Malaysian meddling. Adding insult to injury, Malaysia invited President Aquino to establish a consulate in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. If this insanity comes to pass, then we will forever forfeit our claim to Sabah.

Finally, it is assumed that the President and his men and their critics are all patriotic. The President’s alter egos should refrain from releasing “attack dogs” to hound detractors and hecklers; instead, they should honestly try to refine the basic law to make it and the “agreements of the parties” conform with the law and the Constitution.

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Otherwise, the Supreme Court would again rule, as it did in the cases of the infamous Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain then and of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, that political haste makes unconstitutional waste.

—NELSON D. LAVIÑA,

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