Asserting that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should come first before the deliberations of charter change and federalism, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said that the creation of the Bangsamoro is incompatible with the provisions of President Rodrigo Duterte's proposed federal model.
"For instance, the Bangsamoro parliament is designed after the sultanate model, taking into account the cultural particularities of the Bangsamoro people. I am worried that this would be diluted in President Duterte's federal model which contemplates a devolution of powers that is blind to the distinct culture and history of the Bangsamoro," Hontiveros explained.
Hontiveros said that Duterte cannot use the charter change/federalism process to replace the BBL process as it will result in a situation in which the creation of a Bangsamoro state would effectively be decided by the people of Luzon and the Visayas, instead of the people of Bangsamoro.
"This would not cure the historical and continuing injustices committed against the Moro people and would not be reflective of the gains of the peace process. This would also defeat the Moro people's rights as a distinct people to freely determine their political status and realize their economic, social and cultural development. Charter change would subject the Moro question into a national plebiscite instead of a plebiscite among the Bangsamoro. This would be fundamentally unjust," Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros, who recently visited Mindanao to attend the Senate public hearing on the BBL said that the public must not allow the protracted debates on charter change to hold hostage the government's long overdue commitment to the Moro people to recognize their right to self-determination.
"The process of changing the constitution has not even started yet. In fact, Congress is still debating on whether to vote jointly or separately and what specific provisions of the constitution need amending. Then there will be tedious deliberations and a national plebiscite. Our Moro brothers and sisters have waited long enough for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). It is our surest path to peace," Hontiveros said.
"Fake and anti-BBL federalism"
The Senator also branded Duterte's federalism as fake and anti-BBL.
"Federalism is a call born of the need to redistribute political power and disperse economic development to other regions in the country. I support a federal set-up where accountabilities are clear and decentralized, and, government institutions are made more accessible and brought closer to citizens," Hontiveros stressed.
"However, President Duterte's federalism is the opposite of this. It is fake. Ultimately, I fear that Duterte's version of federalism, which his allies plan to achieve through an undemocratic and Senate-less constituent assembly and subsequently, reward themselves with term limit extentions, might be used as a monkey wrench to defeat the Moro people's legitimate aspiration for self-determination as embodied in the BBL," Hontiveros concluded.
Source: Senate of the Philippines