Today we embrace peace with the crushing might of a people; and banish war with the great power of a nation united,” Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said during her welcome remarks at the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. “Today we embrace peace with the courage of equals rather than the cowardice of bigots, deceivers, and exploiters,” she added. “Today we embrace peace with deep gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift, the blessing of peace, that only Providence can truly bestow upon humanity.”
There was much hope, and much joy that day.
The long road to peace is riddled by potholes far worst than our EDSA has. Like the Reproductive Health Bill before it, having a rational discussion of the points, and merits of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is impossible. Those against the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law are legion. The cowardice of bigots, deceivers, and exploiters continue to fester.
Make no mistake the government is well grounded on the realities of the situation. As a Congressman, President Aquino said that he had wondered, “how intense antagonists in a decades-long conflict could be expected to possess the modicum of trust” to advance peace. When the peace process reached a deadlock, President Aquino took a hands on approach, and secretly met with Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Murad. With Japan’s gracious hosting of the event, an impasse was broken. And so we’re here now.
The basic law is before Congress.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law is the next crucial step in the peace process. It is the law that will do away with the old— the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao— an entity as close to a failed state as we have. Bangsamoro will entirely replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
There is much misinformation being spread. The ravings of the Anti-BBL crowd are like the ramblings of those against the Reproductive Health Law, not grounded in facts or reality.
Make no mistake, Bangsamoro remains part of the Philippines. It says right there in the portion of the bill that defines the region’s territories. The exact shape of the territories are clearly defined, not to mention the people affected will have the opportunity to say no in a plebiscite.
Bangsamoro is just more autonomous than other regions. Think of it as a state in the United States. It is as close to federalism without actually saying so. They have much autonomy to do things, but the limits of that autonomy are clearly defined. Take for instance, Shari’ah courts. Shari’ah courts will exist in the Bangsamoro, but will only affect Muslims. Normal courts will exist in the Bangsamoro. The Supreme Court of the Philippines will remain the highest court of the land.
What happens to the MILF guns? Well, the normalisation and decommissioning process goes for all MILF and their families. These people want a normal life, and it is the intent of the peace process to give it.
What about the stark difference between people in the ARMM/Bangsamoro region who are mostly pro-BBL, and the rest of the country which has marked difference of opinion?
Look at the chart. Places where BBL is welcomed are exactly the places being targeted by the proposed territory. Of course, places like Zamboanga will not be included. Historically, they said no to ARMM. In the proposed legislation, Zamboanga for example, is not included in the territory for the Bangsamoro.
Ferrer said the wide gap in the opinion of those living in the proposed Bangsamoro and Filipinos outside the region “is precisely the root of the problem.”
“The people in the margins are not your average Filipino. They have different needs and perspectives that are not understood by the majority,” she said.
“Skewing happens when you aggregate local data with Mindanao-wide or country-wide results. The national data drowns out the voices of the minority,” she added.
The Ravings of Anti-BBL say that there is an attempt by the President’s party of “railroading” the passage of the bill. That there is an attempt to “shove the measure down the public’s throats”.
For one thing, it is hard to believe any “railroading attempts” or “shoving down” because the bill was supposed to have been already passed. The Mamasapano incident marked a sharp turn of events that put the Peace Process in jeopardy.
The House Plenary is set to vote on the measure, while the Senate is still taking its sweet time. Senator Serge Osmeña says it is “impossible” to pass the measure before Congress goes on recess and reconvenes before the President’s State of the Nation Address. Senator Osmeña urges his colleagues in the Senate not to meet with President Aquino on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, as it maybe an attempt by the President to attach “goodies” in exchange for their vote.
Like any law, should the Bangsamoro Basic Law be passed its constitutionality maybe questioned before the Supreme Court. The BBL will also require a plebiscite. So there is an opportunity for the people in Mindanao to say, no.
All this talk and discussion about the Bangsamoro Basic Law reminds of the words of Carl Sagan in his Pale Blue Dot.
Here’s the quote to it:
Here’s a video of it:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
The ravings of the Anti-BBL crowd come from a place of fear, and uncertainty. Certainly the cowardice of bigots, deceivers, and exploiters helped sow that fear, and that uncertainty. It comes from a place that has very little appreciation of how second class our Filipino muslim brothers and sisters are in their own country. There is very little appreciation of the Minority’s needs. Make no mistake, they are Filipinos whether we want to accept them or not. After decades of war, after trying all out war, and seeing how that failed miserably, and only sowed more hate, surely trying peace no matter its outcome— whether it fails or not— is a far better alternative than the status quo of mistrust, of resentments from all sides, and fear. Make no mistake too that the modicum of trust that exist today needs to be nourished. Make no mistake that there is very little trust from all sides. And yet, surely, our nation is better when the infinite diversity of our culture Christian or Muslim; indigenous peoples and the like are integrated because we are one Filipino nation. Surely that commonness is a ground we all can stand upon. Surely, we have more courage to dare; to try, to sue for peace; to strive to overcome our fears, and bigotry than to be deceived by misinformation, and be drowned by the cowardice of racists, and bigots?
Banner image source: OPAPP.