Solving the Bangsamoro Problem
The goal of the Bangsamoro peace process can be summed up as the establishment of a genuine autonomous government in Mindanao. The logic being that the establishment of a genuine autonomy will solve the decades long “Bangsamoro Problem” of insecurity, poverty, discrimination and historical injustice.
In his July 8, 2016 speech at the Mindanao Hariraya Eid’l Fit’r celebration 2016 in Davao City, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte outlined his new political strategy for the implementation of signed peace agreements with the Bangsamoro. His new approach to solving the Bangsamoro Problem is federalism via charter change.
Under this new plan, there will be a constitutional convention in January 2017 and the new constitution will be ratified during the midterm elections in June 2019. Practically, this is a detour from the previous government’s strategy of passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). This federalism strategy would run for about 36 months (from now up to May 2019). This is the President Duterte’s Plan A. If this fails, he will push for the legislation of the BBL. BBL is his Plan B. Let us listen to his words:
“You might be surprised that there are only about three, four, or five Muslims who would be occupying a Cabinet position. Alam mo kasi, ganito ‘yan: We are trying to do a framework and if I succeed in convincing everybody in Mindanao, if I could convince my MILF brothers and Nur Misuari of the MN, there will be a reconfiguration of the territory and most of them will occupy the regional or state positions.
Mahirap na kasi na maumpisahan because I foresee that towards the end of the year, we’d be able to come up with the framework, kung paano gawin ang federalism. But, if the Filipino nation and a plebiscite would not want it, then I am ready to concede whatever is there in the BBL Law.
So, ‘yung mga kapatid kong MI, a promise is a promise. My word of honor is something which I value very much. Kaya ako pag nag-bitaw ng salita ‘yun na ‘yun at hindi ko na pinapalitan. So these are the things that we have to work in on our aspirations. I do not think that there will be another chance for the Mindanaoans to expect change kung… pag nawala ako. It might be for a long time again. Baka mahintay pa kung si Omar ‘yung anak ko maging Presidente na naman. And that is, he is devoted, devout Moro, Muslim. He goes to the… mosque to pray and I like it. I like religious people, especially my grand children.
I might travel to Jolo. ‘Wag sana lang akong i-kidnap ng Abu Sayyaf. Wala naman akong perang maibigay sa kanila. Diretso putol na lang para — I have to go to Jolo to talk to Nur. And maybe I’ll order the military to just let him… just for a while for him to move around Mindanao to get a consensus amongst the followers of MN and we would be ready, simultaneous ang ating usapan sa MI.
But I said, I assure that if there is no federalism, kung ayaw talaga ng the rest of the country, well then I said what you give to the MI, must be given to MN kasi pareho lang e. I hope that we can have peace in the land. Others, marami akong plano sa ating bayan but I have to clean up. Nandyan si (inaudible) and the others. Even before the campaign, I was always stressing corruption must stop. Corruption must stop.
And this is as good as any other time, if I may just suggest to the Communist Party of the Philippines, and the media to refrain from, you know, mga ambush ambush pati patayan. Anyway, we are talking. Binigyan na nga tayo ng very good example ni Bro. Murad na in spite of the non-passage of the BBL, walang gumalaw. And Nur is also just having a stand down somewhere in Jolo.”
Several points can be gleaned from President Duterte’s speech:
- He is designing a federal framework for the whole country which will also include the Bangsamoro;
- In this framework, there will be a reconfiguration of territory in the Bangsamoro and this plan will include MILF/MNLF officials occupying regional posts.
- In his mind, it will be difficult to initiate the BBL simultaneously with federalism (which is really a constitutional convention). Thus, the BBL legislation must be put first on hold.
- If after the push for federalism, the Filipino people will still reject it, he will push for the BBL. Thus, federalism is Plan A. BBL is Plan B.
- Pres. Duterte is asking the MILF to understand that he has not abandoned his promise to push for the BBL but that this has to wait until the results of the federalism push is known.
What will happen to the present Bangsamoro peace architecture?
The parties – GPH and MILF – since the start of formal negotiations have signed a lot of agreements, notable of which are the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which outline the substance and processes for the establishment of the Bangsamoro autonomy. It creates an architecture that will serve as the delivery mechanisms for all the components of the signed peace agreements. The architecture looks like this:
Source: OPAPP website
For obvious reasons, the architecture was designed for a scenario where the passage of the BBL was a key condition. The passage or non-passage of the BBL affects the architecture tremendously. Now that President Duterte proposes a detour, a change in direction, the question that needs to be answered is: What will happen present peace process architecture under the new strategy?