BBL is clear: Bangsamoro is after independence | Inquirer Opinion

BBL is clear: Bangsamoro is after independence

/ 12:00 AM March 20, 2015

Inquirer columnist Antonio J. Montalvan II criticized me, saying that by positioning themselves [Moros] as a nation, the intention of the Bangsamoro is to secede. He claimed that the term Bangsamoro is used merely to identify the Moros in the same way the Kapampangan use the word to identify themselves from the dominant Tagalog (“The perils of a scopic Mindanao view,” Opinion, 3/16/15).

When the Moros call themselves Maranaw, Tausug, Maguindanaon, etc., they are indeed just like the Kapampangan or Bisaya calling themselves Ilonggo, Cebuano or Waray. They are simply giving themselves an ethnic identity.

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But when Maguindanaon, Maranaw, Tausug, and other Moro ethnic groups start calling themselves Bangsamoro, they are giving themselves a national identity. And when, in addition, they claim a defined territory, with its own territorial sea, as their “ancestral homeland” by birth, assert the “right to self-determination to chart their political future” and self-governance to “pursue their economic, social and cultural development”; when they seek to have a government of their own, organized differently from the established pattern of local governments in the country, and when they want their relation to the central government to be “asymmetric,” one can only conclude that they are seeking independence.

Of course the word “independence” is not in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL); it is in fact studiously avoided. But the proposed BBL makes it very clear for everyone not to see that it is independence the Bangsamoro is aspiring after. Hence the drive toward nationalization. Nationalism and independence are inseparable. That is a fact.

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All these are in the proposed BBL. Plus this provision on foreign policy: “The Bangsamoro abides by the principle that the country renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.” To be sure this was in the 1935 Constitution of the then Commonwealth of the Philippines. But this was because the Philippines then was being prepared for independence 10 years hence. Why have a foreign policy statement in the proposed BBL if the Bangsamoro has no aspiration for independence?

Finally, consider the following:

The present Organic Act for the ARMM provides: “The area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao shall remain an integral and inseparable part of the national territory of the Republic of the Philippines as defined by the Constitution and existing laws.” In the proposed BBL, this provision simply provides: “The Bangsamoro territory shall remain part of the Philippines.”

The Organic Act also provides: “The people of the autonomous region shall uphold the Constitution as the fundamental law of the land and unequivocally owe allegiance and fidelity to the Republic of the Philippines.” This—or anything close to this—is not in the proposed BBL either.

“Scopic,” as Montalvan claims?

—VICENTE V. MENDOZA, retired justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines, [email protected]

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TAGS: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Bangsamoro, Bangsamoro Basic Law, Moros
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