Getting real with the BBL PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 14:57

The southerner

Rey-Luis Banagudos

Local civil society organization (CSO) Nisa Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro headed by Fatima Fir Allian last week presented a manifesto to media timed to coincide with the observance of the current Mindanao Week of Peace 2015 celebration, which is on November 26-December 2.  The  manifesto signed by 36 Moro CSOs appealed anew to Congress to already pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in its undiluted form — or not at all.

“As civil society organizations and other groups with programs for, offices in, and people from the Bangsamoro, we are saddened to see how 17 years of negotiations (between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front) are being put aside, and how the hope for lasting peace is slowly dimming under the Aquino administration”, the manifesto despaired.  The enactment of BBL into law to create a new Bangsamoro regional government in Mindanao is increasingly running out of time as it faces more interpellations both in the Senate and Lower House plus a constant lack of quorum in the plenary session.

From Manila, the government and MILF peace panels have sent a joint letter making a similar, urgent appeal to the leaderships of Congress , saying: “Time is short, but there is still time. We ask our legislators to work for the immediate passage of the draft law on the Bangsamoro. . . The passage of the law will pave the way for the decommissioning of thousands of weapons and combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It will enable the peaceful transition of an armed group into regular members of society, participating and competing in free and fair elections.”

The letter continued: “Let us allow the MILF to proceed to the third and last stage of their struggle: from pure armed struggle from 1972 to 1997;  political struggle from 1997 to the passage and ratification of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL); to democratic struggle where their rights and aspirations are pursued solely through civilized and democratic means.”

How true, how well and good.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Teresita Deles was being realistic when she recently said that it will take “a miracle” for the BBL to pass at this stage, under the conditions especially with the fast coming elections feverishly distracting the lawmakers from their remaining legislative agenda.

BBL proponents and advocates should or would not despair if they only understand Philippine-style politics, and Congress is all about politics more than it is about lawmaking. The highest principle – if it can be called thus -  of politics is spelled as “quid pro quo”.  It can also be set as a rule: Talk softly, carry a big stick – by F.D.R. Or an ultimatum: I will make him and offer he cannot refuse – by Vito Corleone.  That’s how to make the BBL pass, probably the only way given the circumstances, or traditional politics.

And if it is all about “a miracle”, why? There is one miracle sitting under the nose (some call it Pinocchio’s) of the President, chief conductor of the peace process.  He can certify the BBL as an urgent bill and thus easily override the time constraint. In addition, he can make the lawmakers an offer they cannot refuse, after all it is already the Christmas season of gift-giving plus election campaign.  Wink! Wink! (Rey-Luis Banagudos)