QUO VADIS BBL? The national euphoria over the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Bangsamoro Basic Law may have ended following the massacre of the SAF commandos in Mamasapano in Maguindanao, to lay in waste many months of negotiations to clinch the deal seen as a solution to the Moro problem in Mindanao.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said a Federal type of government could be Mindanao’s saving grace as the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is battered by dark clouds following the killing of police Special Action Forces (SAF) in Mamasapano by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Figthers (BIFF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters.
The BBL, now being deliberated in Congress and seen as the answer to the decades-old Moro problem, is the organic law that would establish a Bangsamoro government in Mindanao under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that the Philippine government has signed with the MILF.
The Mamasapano massacre of 44 SAF commandos has sparked national outrage and calls to dump the BBL. Two Senators have withdrawn their support for the proposed law that President Benigno Aquino vowed to approve before his term ends in 2016.
Mayor Duterte has supported BBL but has warned that a new round of violence would explode in Mindanao if BBL is not approved by Congress or declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Mayor Duterte Is advocating a shift to a federal form of government as the answer to the Moro and communist insurgencies.
Speaking at a summit on federalism in Palawan, Mayor Duterte said federalism offers a fall back position for the Bangsamoro problem should the Bangsamoro Basic Law fail to pass Congress or the Supreme Court.
The withdrawal of support for the BBL by several senators could delay its approval and the national outrage over the killing of the SAF policemen could completely derail it.
Mayor Duterte said Federalism is the only option to prevent an outbreak of violence in the South should BBL fail to pass Congress or the Supreme Court.
The advocacy for a shift to a Federal form of government in the Philippines which is being pushed by Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte received a huge amount of support in Palawan, an island-province which feels that it has been neglected by the central government.
Speaking before the Federalism Summit hosted by Palawan Governor Jose C. Alvarez, the Davao City Mayor appeared pleasantly surprised that his call for a move towards a Federal form of government was enthusiastically welcomed by Palawenos.
Palawan, according to Gov. Alvarez, has long felt that it is not included in the plans and programs of the national government.
“I even have to ask the Weather Bureau to include us in their weather forecast,” the Governor said during his opening statement.
Palawan is also embroiled in a dispute with the national government over its share from the revenues generated by the Malampaya Gas Fields off the shores of the province.
Of the estimated P73-B share of the province, only over P3-B was released during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Under the administration of President Aquino, the province has not received its share from the fund which was one of those included in the expose made by Benhur Luy as being the source of funds for the operation of suspected pork barrel misuse mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Duterte, in his speech in the February 2 summit, said that a Federal form of government will ensure that Palawan will get its fair share of the Malampaya revenues.
From the Federalism Summit, Duterte proceeded to the Palawan State University where he spoke to a huge group of political science students about Federalism.
Duterte once again lamented the failure of the national government to release to the Palawan Provincial Government its share of the Malampaya Funds.
“Can you imagine what P73-B could do to you? It could give you quality education and this school (PSU) could have modern computers and other things you need for your education,” he said addressing the PSU students.
Palawan has a long history of attempts to introduce Federalism to Congress citing that the province, which has been neglected by the national government, could stand on its own given its income from its natural resources.
Palawan today is considered as one of the top tourist destinations in the world and is considered as the biggest source of nickel which is being exploited by several mining firms in the southern part of the island.
The island-province is also a rich source of high value live fish and seaweeds.
Palawan is the last stop in the second leg of the “Listening Tour” which started in Cebu City Jan. 30 and proceeded to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija.
The “Listening Tour” is being conducted by a group of Duterte supporters called MRRD or Movement for Rody Roa Duterte and is aimed at pushing the Federalism advocacy while at the same time giving the Mayor an opportunity to feel the pulse of the people amid calls for him to run for President.