3 tracks post-Mamasapano | Inquirer Opinion

3 tracks post-Mamasapano

After the tragedy at Mamasapano, there are at least three tracks leading to a roadmap to peace in Southern Mindanao.

The first is the “business as usual” framework that considers the tragedy a momentary aberration that should not impact the peace process and the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the implementing instrument of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


The second is the growing consensus in the House and the Senate that the BBL that shall be enacted would be within the framework of the 1987 Constitution and consistent with existing national laws. This track ensures that the new law would pass any judicial scrutiny. Three formidable legal briefs and studies—by former Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, also a former high court justice, and the Philippine Constitution Authority—have questioned the constitutionality of the BBL. By and large, there is a growing agreement on the substance of these legal briefs.

The third track is the advocacy and work for constitutional amendments that would accommodate the aspiration of the Bangsamoro as expressed in the BBL. This would mean that the enactment of a BBL that is reflective of the 2014 CAB would take place under a new administration.


The first track is definitely illusionary! It cannot be “business as usual” in the peace process after the Mamasapano tragedy. As I have earlier written, trust is the biggest casualty in the tragedy. And as in any other peace process, no lasting and enduring peace is possible without trust. No amount of cover-up and the obliteration of the connection of President Aquino and of the US government to Oplan Exodus can rebuild that trust. Nor will the “return” of firearms or the “surrender” of the perpetrators of the tragedy restore the trust that was shattered.

The second track has so many pitfalls that the call “Enact the BBL now” is propaganda at best and divisive at worst. No doubt, a BBL that is “written” within the framework of the 1987 Constitution and consistent with existing national laws would be understood as “diluting” the spirit and the letter of the proposed BBL. But Congress has very little choice because it is beyond its competence to enact a law outside the framework of the Constitution and inconsistent with existing national laws. This is a classic case of the saying “You cannot put new wine in an old wineskin.” Doing so would mean spoiling the new wine and ruining the old wineskin.

A diluted BBL may also divide the MILF. Like the case of the Moro National Liberation Front in 2001 with Republic Act No. 9054, there would be a group within the MILF that would accept “any BBL,” and another group that would reject a BBL that departs from the spirit and letter of the draft now in Congress.

Some quarters say the aging leadership in the MILF may accept any BBL with a caveat that the younger generation of Moro warriors would continue the struggle of the Bangsamoro.

The third track offers a fresher and innovative move forward, although it would be under the next presidency. This track takes seriously the one peace trajectory that began in 1976 with the Tripoli Agreement, moves for the closure of the final peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF in 1996, and completes the trajectory with the 2014 CAB. The result of this trajectory would be inputted into the amendment of the Charter through a constitutional convention. It may take some time, but there is no rush in the peace process, especially when the proposed BBL, in its letter and spirit, is “beyond the power of Congress” to enact.

In a similar vein, the contemplated BBL is more attuned to a federal form and parliamentary system of government that is not contemplated in the present “unitary government, and as such it has all the powers of sovereignty, except only those given to the autonomous regions by the Constitution” (Mendoza).

Moreover, the Bangsamoro aspiration to have its own “substate” can be best served “in tandem” with other regions’ dream and aspiration for real local (regional) autonomy, and for control and supervision over their local resources.


It will be foolhardy to stubbornly cling to the culture of “business as usual” when it is clear to all and sundry that the environment has radically changed post-Mamasapano. Similarly, a diluted BBL is a dangerous formula that would not lead to lasting peace and would simply provide an illusion of peace as the struggle continues.

The real sad story of the present peace process is the fact that it has no history, and no future either. It began in 2010 and there is no reference and connection to all the previous peace processes and agreements, and it also has no future beyond P-Noy’s administration. There is not even a single reference to the 1976 Tripoli Agreement or to the 1996 final peace agreement. Neither does it have any connection to the various attempts at autonomy, from Ferdinand Marcos’ Presidential Proclamation No. 1628 to Corazon Aquino’s RA 6734 to Gloria Arroyo’s RA 9054.

Any attempt with no roots is not sustainable. It has no future. It may sprout easily, but it will soon wither under the heat of the sun. It is like building an edifice on sand: A tempest comes and it collapses under the buffeting of a strong wind like the Mamasapano tragedy.

Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI ([email protected]) chairs Development Consultants Inc.

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, Bangsamoro Basic Law, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Mamasapano, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Vicente Mendoza
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