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BBL bound BBM, BSA

Marcos, as head of the Senate panel on local governments, did not allow the rush and for which he was accused of dragging his feet on the Bangsamoro law.

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The fates of the namesakes of their fathers, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and the late Benigno S. Aquino III, were inextricably tied to the peace process in Mindanao.

The late President Aquino wanted the creation of a sub-state for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which during the deliberations in the Senate under the local government panel of Marcos was found patently unconstitutional.

Mindanao was also the tipping point in the relations of both their illustrious fathers.

Marcos Sr. worked tirelessly to attain peace with the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari while Aquino Jr.’s political star rocketed after exposing the Jabidah massacre which was supposedly a botched Marcos attempt at reclaiming Sabah.

Marcos Jr. took the first decisive step in suspending the hearings on BBL after the Mamasapano carnage where 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos lost their lives.

Members of the MILF and other allied armed groups gunned down members of the police force who were serving arrest orders on a suspect in a bombing incident.

Mohagher Iqbal, head of the MILF negotiating panel, acknowledged that MILF members were involved in the clash but justified the rebels’ act as the result of the failure of the Philippine National Police to coordinate with the MILF.

Investigations on the incident showed that Noynoy and then suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima compartmentalized Operation Exodus that neutralized Malaysian terrorist Marwan.

Marcos said even without coordination, the MILF should have exercised patience and caution in the incident as the rebels are negotiating peace with the government.

During one of the hearings on the constitutionality of the BBL, government peace panel chairperson Miriam Coronel Ferrer admitted that what the Aquino administration and the MILF were working on was a sub-state and defended it as being merely a demonized word. She said the term sub-state “merely means being a part of a bigger whole. Like in mathematics, a subset.”

The admission was unavoidable since Constitutional experts that were ranged against her during the hearing of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments headed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago all tore down the pretensions about the political entity called Bangsamoro.

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza then said the proposed BBL can’t hide behind the pretensions of asymmetrical relationship since the law is actually creating a new state.

He added that the asymmetrical relationship is substituted for the term independence under the BBL.

Impatience apparently got the better of the MILF and its members after Aquino pledged to deliver the Bangsamoro sub-state before the end of his term.

Marcos, as head of the Senate panel on local governments, did not allow the rush and for which he was accused of dragging his feet on the Bangsamoro law.

The senator did not budge, since he reasoned that the strength of MILF’s commitment to peace can be determined in the crafting of a law that conforms with the Constitution.

Marcos’ panel insisted on getting the widest views possible for incorporation into the BBL that will be filed in the upper chamber, something which seems to be lacking in the House version that is proceeding with the main goal of keeping the discussions within a Palace-set timetable.

Marcos noted one of the most contentious issues was about the control of the police force, who will pick the members, and whose orders they would follow.

“Can the Philippine National Police countermand the orders of the Bangsamoro Chief Minister and should a conflict arise, what happens,” Marcos asked.

The reply of a member of the government panel is that “there will be a negotiation.”

The need for negotiation means the Bangsamoro is given a sovereign status on equal footing with the republic, according to Marcos.

Another issue that was cleared up was the wealth-sharing provision of the bill since the local governments’ share of the internal revenue allotment (IRA) is 40 percent but with the Bangsamoro the wealth-sharing is 75 percent in its favor.

“So what can stop the other LGU from asking for autonomy to get higher IRA, which the Cordilleras already did, through a proposed law filed recently in the lower chamber,” Marcos said.

Also, Marcos asked, “what do we do with the Moro National Liberation Front because its position is clearly against BBL?”

“We can’t pretend that they don’t exist”, Marcos added.

After President Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016, he signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law incorporating many of the revisions made under the aegis of Marcos.

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