By Erik Espina
“Passing a law will not solve the problem. They have to be subjugated!” Advice from a respected/veteran former senator, spoken in confidence.
The recent Independence Day celebration prompts confronting the very thesis of a manufactured Bangsamoro identity and government, contrasted to a traceable narrative of a people who must observe “national unity” as an elevated and preponderant value in maintaining the sinews of our republican heritage and territory. What is our identity as Filipinos worth? Our sense of community as a people, nation, over and beyond, linguistic variances? Our seminal tribal and socio-cultural cleavages the very fodder many colonials exploited. And we have not learned from this?
If we follow this fractious interpretation of history creating a Bangsamoro homeland, to include indigenous peoples skirted from the ideology, they are “Native/Original Filipinos,” then as a sovereign and united people we are riding a slippery slope unravelling national identity by religion and origin (Filipinos, Moros, and Lumads), balkanizing our territory, and deconstructing the republic via sub-states and ancestral/customary lands.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Miguel Zubiri was quoted as stating 150 amendments for the proposed BBL in the Upper House. The House approved version has made substantive amendments, e.g., entire Section 4, Delimitation of the Bangsamoro, deleting 25 years of periodic plebiscite every five years vs. creeping expansion; Art 3, Section 3, Contiguous Territory deleted; Bangsamoro Military Command of the AFP for the Bangsamoro and Sections 17-20 deleted; entire Sections 1-14 in the Public Order and Safety (Art. XI) replaced by Sec. 2 and 3 Nat’l Defense and Security Order and Safety and Coastguard Matters; Art V, Powers of Government Sec. 1., Reserved Powers by the National Government, increased to 20 from 9.
Even the terms have been amended, e.g. Bangsamoro Territory to Bangsamoro Geographical Area, Central Government to National Government, etc. The MILF, however, issued an early warning against watering down the BBL as filament for continued war.
Reality on the ground as per my own research/discussions are that MNLF of Nur Misuari (OIC-recognized) is not on board. The sea-bound Tausugs, Samals, Badjaos, royal houses, etc. and IPs are also resistant to BBL. Not discounting an increasing Non-Muslim population – Ilongos, Ilocanos, Cebuanos in Southern and Northern Cotabato, etc., arming themselves and against the MILF Bangsamoro.