Lobregat speaks on BBL in Rappler forum PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 July 2015 14:03

By Jubels Santos

District I Congressman Celso Lobregat was invited to speak in a roundtable discussion dubbed “#HearMindanao: Why we should talk peace?” organized by Rappler’s MovePH and INCITEGov. last Tuesday, July 14 at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City.

Lobregat turned out to be the main speaker in the second part of the forum - a roundtable discussion on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the path to peace. The panel of reactors mostly lawyers included Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Atty. Marlon Manuel (National Coordinator, Alternative Law Groups, Inc.), Atty. Benedicto Bacani (Executive Director, Institute for Autonomy and Governance) and Samira Gutoc (Co-Convenor for Civil Society, Friends of Peace). Marites Dañguilan Vitug (Editor-at-Large, Rappler) was the moderator during the roundtable discussion.

Atty. Bacani, one of the panel reactors, commended Lobregat’s arguments on the BBL sayiing the Zamboanga solon is not a lawyer but “he will shame lawyers in terms of how rigorous his research”.

Lobregat opened his talk by saying “I am for peace, I am not anti-peace, but we need a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is just, fair, acceptable, feasible, and most important, consistent with the Constitution and existing law. I do not want the BBL to end up like the failed MOA-AD that was declared contrary to Law and the Constitution by the Supreme Court.” He said the problem begins when one starts reading, analyzing, understanding the different provisions and its implications, and the title itself says it all. “The BBL seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), repealing for the purpose RA 9054 and RA 6734.”

Lobregat discussed that in the proposed BBL (HB 4994) and now substituted by BLBAR (HB 5811), Bangsamoro is used to describe Bangsamoro Government (BLBAR Article I and Article VII), Bangsamoro People (BLBAR Article II), and Bangsamoro Territory/Geographical Area (BLBAR Article III) – 3 of the four elements of a state as laid down in the Montevideo Convention of 1933.

He also mentioned the timeline of the peace process – from the 1976 Tripoli Agreement (Marcos Era), fast forward to the Cory Aquino Government the 1987 Constitution, then the RA 6734, and during the Ramos Administration where President Ramos pursued and concluded the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

He even quoted a PhilStar article of September 11, 2013 entitled “Nur Misuari as leader of the ARMM and MNLF” which states: “Misuari was quick to complain about the government’s having started its formal talks with the MILF on January 7, 1997, less than four months after he and President Ramos signed the September 2, 1996 GPH-MNLF final truce.”

“The ink of the pen used in the signing of our peace agreement with government has not even dried yet and here’s another peace talks now with another group,” a griping Misuari was quoted to have said in the news article.

Lobregat said for the MILF, the passage of the BBL as is and without any changes, is the only alternative to peace but for the MNLF, the abolition of the ARMM and the repeal of RA 9054 is tantamount to the abrogation of the 1996 peace agreement.

He likewise mentioned the letter of MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of Dec. 29, 2014 addressed to Congressional Ad Hoc Committee Chair Rodriguez where the MILF leader said his group negotiated its peace agreement with the understanding that it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government or “whole of government”, especially since, among other reasons, the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President allows him to bind the whole of government including its different branches.

Lobregat said what would happen if certain provisions in the draft BBL will be amended, revised, deleted or provisions. He emphasized that the Lower House and the Senate have consistently stated that the BBL will not pass as is.

The Zamboanga congressman also talked about the Constitution, Constitutionality and the Laws and related issues and mentioned that the Supreme Court (SC) has recently dismissed a petition filed by Rolando Mijares seeking to declare as unconstitutional the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law for being premature. But the SC ordered the government to comment on two separate petitions filed by PHILCONSA and former Negros Oriental representative Jacinto Paras to void the FAB and the CAB, he said.

“Yes i am for peace, but not for appeasement at the expense of the Republic,” Lobregat reiterated in his presentation.

Glenda M. Gloria (Managing Editor, Rappler and Author of Under the Crescent Moon) gave the welcome and closing remarks. Norombai Utto (Class Valedictorian, Salik National High School in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Mindanao ) was the Keynote Speaker. She is featured in the Rappler story: ‘Bakwit’ valedictorian’s wish: Sana araw-araw graduation. Norombai, together with Fatima Sandigan (Mamasapano, Maguindanao, MILF widow with a baby) and Mobarak Hadji Yahya (Camp Bilal, Lanao del Norte, MILF fighter and son of the late Commander Hadji Yahya Locsadatu – former Vice chief of Staff of BIAF-MILF) were part of the conversation on the Voices from Mindanao: the Human Cost of War during the first part of the forum. Voltaire Tupaz (Content & Engagement, Move.PH) was the moderator during the said conversation. Zak Yuson (Director, Move.PH) also participated as the event’s emcee.

Lobregat capped his speech by addressing the 3 youth from Mindanao- Norombai, Fatima and Mobarak. He said on July 13 he hosted the 12th Pagbukah, the breaking of the fast during the month of Ramadan, a tradition he started since 2004. “Our Muslim brothers said “let’s tolerate each other”, but I said, we in Zamboanga City do more than tolerate, we respect and understand each other’s culture and religion. After all our religions, the two great religions in the world are the same. You believe in oneness, we believe in one God but we call Him in different names.” Lobregat was in Zamboanga on July 13 for the Pagbukah and flew to Manila on July 14 to attend the forum.

Meanwhile, Maria Ressa (CEO and Executive Editor of Rappler) made a presentation on The Global Context: What would be the impact of a BBL failure?

During an open forum one participant asked what will be the repercussion if the BBL is not passed and if ever what will be the alternative. Lobregat answered that if and when the BBL is not passed, the present ARMM will remain but then improvements on its operation can be introduced. “This is one of the difficulties of this bill because you are abolishing something that has been worked on by another group which is the official representative of the Bangsamoro, the MNLF. So instead of abolishing the ARMM we can strengthen it.”

He also expressed disagreement to observations that the ARMM is a failure saying “the Constitution is as good as the people that implement it, any law is as good as how it is implemented. There is still hope to improve the ARMM. In Zamboanga City, we want the Autonomous Region to succeed. If ARMM succeeds, there is peace and progress, not only for the ARMM, but also for Zamboanga City and the rest of Mindanao. Let us respect each other. We have been asked twice and we overwhelmingly voted NO to the inclusion in the ARMM. Let it be.”

Some 100 people, mostly peace advocates attended the forum. To watch the full livestream video of “#HearMindanao: Why we should talk peace” visit the site: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/mindanao/98534-hear-mindanao-forum-event-page — Jubels Santos