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2015-Aug-15 By Jay Dejaresco

In order to forge a lasting peace with and among the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao a Bangsamoro Federal state has been proposed, in line with the movement to adopt a federal system in the Philippines.

Former Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. has long pushed for a federal type of government in the Philippines as this will be a catalyst in undertaking sweeping changes in the political, economic and cultural landscape in the south that has been marred by decades of violence.

Under his proposal, there will be two federal states for the Bangsamoro peoples.

One will be the Federal State for the Mainland Muslims of Mindanao covering the Maranaws, Maguidanaos, and sub-tribes.

Another will be the Federal State for the Off-Shore Islands Muslims covering the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The Bangsamo federal state is vital to the nation for many reasons, Pimentel said.

He explained that the secessionist movements of the various Moro groups started since the Spanish colonial era.

He maintained that the secessions cannot be solved permanently by force.

The suggested solution is to federalize the country and convert the present Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao into a Bangsamoro Federal State.

Meanwhile, on the proposed Bangsomoro Basic Law pending in Congress, Pimentel said this deserves the support of the people.

Any move to bring peace to the country should be backed  by the people, he stressed.

However Pimentel stressed that any such move must be in accord with our Constitution.

This means that the elections that the BBL intends to hold in the Bangsamoro entity must conform with Article X, Sections 1 & 18 of the Constitution, he said.

Sections 1 and 18 of Article X bar the kind of elections the BBL intends to hold in the Bangsamoro entity, he added.

Pimentel explained that the 2nd sentence of Section 1 of Article X of the Constitution ordains that:

“There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.

The phrase “as hereinafter provided” means that the creation of the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao must follow the requirements of Article X of the Constitution, Pimentel maintained.

Unfortunately the BBL contradicts the mandate of Article X of the Constitution he said.

Pimentel quoted the second sentence of the cited section and article which provides that: “The organic act (for the Autonomous Region) shall define the basic structure of the government for the region consisting of the executive department and the legislative assembly, BOTH OF WHICH SHALL BE ELECTIVE and representative of the constituent political units.”

Pimentel said that the framers of the Constitution could not have any other kind of election in mind other than that with which they were familiar.

That means, he said,  that the executive officials of the Bangsamoro entity, and the members of its legislative assembly must be voted directly by the qualified voters therein, and SEPARATELY, too.

If they had an indirect kind of election for the executive officials of the Bangsamoro entity in mind, they would have worded the section accordingly, Pimentel emphasized.

He also stressed that some provisions of the proposed BBL need to be refined to make them conform with the Constitutiton.

He cited as examples the provisions on the Commission on Elections, Human Rights and Civil Service, among others.

Pimentel disclosed that the Sultan of Sulu disagrees with the BBL intent to rename the Sulu Sea as Bangsamoro Sea.


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