BY ROGER M. BALANZA
After the Bangsamoro political entity is set into place, the Philippine government may then face the clamor for a shift to a federal form of government, said the government’s chief negotiator in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The MILF is the biggest Moro group in Mindanao that has wrapped up a peace agreement with the Philippine government.
One at a time, was the reaction of Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Oppap) Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles to a proposal by Mindanao political leaders for government to adopt a federal system for Mindanao.
Recently, a group of Mindanao leaders led by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte met to discuss a plan to prod the Manila government to adopt a federal system of government in Mindanao.
The group, dubbed as the Mindanao Council of Leaders, said it would soon go on a nationwide campaign to gain support for a federal form of governance.
Without closing the door on the proposal, Deles, in Davao City on Thursday, September 18, for the Conference of Mindanao Board Members, said that at this time focus should first be concentrated on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which has yet to be deliberated on by Congress. Deles and Mayor Duterte were the guest speakers n the widely-attended gathering.
Submitted to Congress only on September 10, BBL is the legal foundation for the establishment of a Bangsamoro Political Entity (BPE) in Muslim-dominated areas of Mindanao.
The BBL sprung from the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed in March by the Philippine government and the MILF after long years of negotiations to end decades of conflict in the southern island.
Deles said with Congress having its hands full with the BBL, which would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new autonomous Bangsamoro government, there is no room for tackling the shift to federalism.
It would be impossible for the issue on federalism and the issue on Bangsamoro autonomy to go hand in hand, said Deles in a report in SunStar Davao.
Further, Deles said tackling federalism and the Bangsamoro requires two different paths.
The shift to a federal form of government needs a charter change while the Bangsamoro autonomy only needed an act by Congress, she said.
Mindanao leaders could push federalism after the Bangsamoro law is successfully in place, Deles advised.