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COMMENT: IV. BEL: Roadmap and Roadblocks (5)

5th  of nine parts

EO No. 08 s. 2016

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 31 December) — We expected EO No. 08 s. 2016 to be a new executive order. However, that it turned out as amending EO No. 120 s. 2012 as amended by EO No. 187 s. 2015 is understandable. It is only expanding the membership of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) created under EO No. 120 and mandating it to draft a new enabling law for the Bangsamoro more inclusive than Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) through convergence. The amendments were expected to adopt the Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap  (provisions).

But contrary to expectation, EO No. 08 lacks the force necessary to ensure the inclusivity and convergence for drafting the desired Bangsamoro Enabling Law (BEL). It is silent on how the BPDR is to become the guide or map in the drafting of BEL and has no timeline set for the submission of the BEL draft to the Congress contrary to the specific provisions of the BPDR. The lack and the silence are disturbing.

EO No. 08 s. 2016 and BPDR: EO No. 08’s third “Whereas-clause” states that during their first meeting in Kuala Lumpur, the GPH and MILF “reached a consensus on the substantive aspects of the new Peace and Development Roadmap for the implementation of the signed agreements”. That only gave the BPDR a semblance of joint GPH-MILF authorship. Drawn by Secretary Dureza and approved by President Duterte, the GPH and MILF panel had no option but to adopt it. That was what they did in Kuala Lumpur,

But the adoption strengthens the authority of the GPH-MILF implementing panels that will coordinate with the BTC the drafting of the BEL. Officially on record, the BPDR is a joint GPH-MILF Agreement. But the question is: What now is the relevance of the BPDR to the drafting of the BEL when EO No. 08 is silent on it?

On BTC Membership, Inclusivity and Convergence: EO No.O8’s  fifth “Whereas-clause” states “a need to expand the membership and functions” of the BTC “to ensure inclusivity in the Bangsamoro peace process” as the BPDR provides and to “bring about wider participation in the implementation of the signed agreements”.

How does the EO spell this out?

The EO did not specify how the ten BTC members allotted to GPH are to be apportioned among the MNLF factions, the IPs and LGUs. Section 2 on Composition only provides “broad and diverse composition”, referring to the expanded composition from 15 to 21. The BPDR is specific. The EO, instead of changing the specific to the general, should have gone a step farther by specifying the numbers for each specific party.

It did not set firmly the parameters of convergence for the drafting of the BEL; this can be seen clearly in Section 3 on Functions. This section should have elaborated the BPDR’s provisions on convergence; it did not.

On the contrary, nowhere in Section 3 or in the other sections and the “Whereas-clauses” are “BEL” and “convergence” mentioned or referred to.

Section 3a states the primary function of the expanded BTC: “To draft proposals for a Bangsamoro Basic Law …” without specifying the basic reference for the drafting. This, in effect, scraps the BPDR provisions on the crafting of “the New Enabling Law for the Bangsamoro” (BEL). Does this also imply the silent junking of the BPDR?

This amends Section 2a of EO No. 120 s. 2012 which provides: “To draft the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law …” clearly specifying the basic reference “… with provisions consistent with the 2012  Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” that in EO No. 187 s. 2015 has amended to “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro”.

This raises two questions: [1] Is there a difference between “To draft proposals for a Bangsamoro Basic Law” in EO No. 08 and “To draft the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law” in EO No. 120? [2] Is the specific basic reference (EO 120) or the lack of any (EO 08) for the drafting significant?   

On Question [1]: In EO 08, the BTC will only draft “proposals” for a BBL. It connotes unstructured proposals and any BBL as denoted by the indefinite article “a”. In reference to “Question [2]”, since EO 08 has no specific basic reference, the proposals may be from random sources and, later, to be adopted or rejected while drafting a BBL.

In EO 120, the BTC will draft “the proposed” BBL in legal form – not just any BBL but that definitely agreed, as denoted by the definite article “the”, in the FAB. In reference the “Question [2]”, its provisions (structured proposals) are restricted to the FAB and its four Annexes.

Like EO 120 that it amended, EO 08 should have been specific. It should have qualified in its Section 2 the BTC to be composed of the MILF and Misuari, Sema and Alonto factions of the MNLF, In its Section 3a, it should have mandated the BTC to draft the proposed Bangsmoro Enabling Law with the BPDR as specifically the basic reference – meaning, the convergence of the CAB, 1996 FPA, R.A. No. 9054 and the IPRA with the necessary elaboration of the mandate in the other sub-sections of Section 3.

Had this been done, what would be submitted to the Congress is Draft BEL, the common proposal of the MILF, all MNLF factions, the IPs and LGUs. The legislators will confine their deliberations on the draft bill.

Misuari’s November 5 letter to the President undid a good plan. Now, two autonomy bills will be submitted to the Congress. The Senate and the House will consider the two bills “proposals” for them to consolidate. As the President and Secretary Dureza have stated to media, the Congress will do the convergence, no longer the BTC. There will be two consolidated versions which will later be reconciled at the Bi-Cameral Conference Committee.

The fate of Bangsamoro is wrapped in uncertainty. Will the two bills be submitted in July 2017? Will the Congress consolidate the two bills when to MNLF-Misuari “convergence is disaster”? How can the 17th Congress enact the basic law for Bangsamoro acceptable to all?

The buck will pass back to President Duterte. He could – and should – have mandated in EO No. 08 s. 2016 the unification of the MILF and all the MNLF factions and the BTC to draft the BEL bill on a single track according to the BPDR. But he abandoned his good plan to allow Nur Misuari to follow a second track. Why? Because he cannot displease or offend his good friend?

Tomorrow: Arbitrary Accommodation



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