Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. appealed to Cebuanos to give the Basic Law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region or popularly known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) a chance.
He said the law was crafted to achieve “real peace” and “genuine prosperity” in Mindanao which may redound to the benefits of the entire country.
“Sulayan ta kining BBL. Kung mahitabo nga dili maayo diay tungod kay ordinaryo ra kining legislasyon, dali ra kaayo i-repeal ang balayod (Let’s try BBL. If this fails we can easily repeal the law because this is just an ordinary legislation,” he said.
“We must look forward not with a negative mind,” added Davide. He was tasked by President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” Aquino III to review the constitutionality of BBL.
The former chief justice spoke during the forum on BBL hosted by the Achdiocese of Cebu last June 16 at the Archibishop’s Palace.
Speaking against the BBL was fellow constitutionalist former Governor/Representative Pablo Garcia.
Garcia called the BBL a “Pandora’s box,” which would provoke more problems than solutions.
Garcia’s objection is anchored on the question whether Congress would violate the Constitution in creating another autonomous region.
He said there are only two autonomous regions that Congress are allowed to create: The Cordillera Autonomous Region and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Thus, Congress would need to amend the Constitution first in order to pass the BBL.
Garcia further stated that the creation of sub-state in BBL will open the door for secession since it provides that the sub-state is allowed “to chart its own future political status.”
Manny Lopez of Christian Peace Alliance also claimed that BBL espouses a Malaysian design of Bangsamoro sub-state, which reinforces the common fear of the eventual secession of the sub-state to Malaysia.
On the issue on constitutionality, Davide answered that the creation of Bangsamoro state is merely a repeal of the old (ARMM). In effect, Congress does not create another autonomous region and thus, there’s no need to amend the Constitution.
ARMM was first established in 1989 through the enactment of Republic Act 6734 otherwise known as the Organic Act. It was amended in 2001 with the passage of Republic Act 9054.
Davide said he does not believe that there’s underpinning political interest on the part of Malaysia in the passage of the law.
Davide, who was once a Philippine representative to the United Nations (UN) said the Philippines and Malaysia are both UN members.
And every UN member state is mandated to respect each other’s integrity and sovereignty. “There’s absolutely nothing to fear,” he said.
But he also admitted that while the National Government maintains overall powers over the Bangsamoro state, Congress however, needs to clearly outline the extent of these powers granted to the sub-state.
The archdiocese hosted the forum to help the public discern and make intelligent decisions.
Among those who participated in the forum were members of the academe, religious societies, non-government organizations, government employees, and the media.
Najeeb Mufti Razul, a Muslim Leader in Cebu, said inhuman conditions brought about by war in Mindanao caused their Muslim brothers to relocate to other parts of the country. Razul was among the reactors in the forum yesterday.
He said they have been dreaming to live peacefully side by side with their Christian brothers in Mindanao.