Nation



By Raynan F. Javil


Alvarez reaffirms draft BBL as part of federalism plan




Posted on May 30, 2016


THE ESSENCE of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is what federalism is all about, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon D. Alvarez said.

Rep. Pantaleon D. Alvarez -- Raynan F. Javil
“If you read what’s on the BBL, that is the essence of federalism,” Mr. Alvarez said in an interview on the sidelines of a coalition agreement ceremony in Makati City, adding that Filipino-Muslims will still have their own entity under the planned federalism form of government.

“I was just reiterating what Mayor [Rodrigo R.] Duterte said during the campaign, on tape naman iyon, sabi niya isusulong niya ’yung federalism [that’s on tape, he said he will push for federalism],” he added.

Mr. Alvarez, who is expected to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress, said the government can pursue the shelved BBL, alongside the move toward federalism.

“So if we will amend the Constitution, [we will include that in revising the Constitution because we will change] from a unitary to federal form of government,” he added.

Mr. Alvarez also said incoming president Rodrigo R. Duterte has delegated the concerns of the affected parties.

“The mayor, in fact, designated certain persons to [negotiate with our Muslim bothers], and separately, may mag ha-handle ng CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines] and NPA [New People’s Army], like the one on [the] peace panel.”

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said in a recent editorial on its Web site, luwaran.com, that Mr. Alvarez’s previous statements about the BBL were a “non-starter,” being contrary to what Mr. Duterte had said during his meeting with them in February and in the last presidential debate in Pangasinan in April.

“On both occasions, Duterte assured the implementation of the CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro] and the passage of the BBL. He even said that he will consider the BBL as a template for federalizing the whole country,” the editorial noted.

The MILF added that a federal type of government will not resolve the Bangsamoro questions.

“There are peculiarities that are unique to the Bangsamoro but are not present in the other possible federal states, which are predominantly Christian, such as the issues of Shariah, madrasah systems, need for Bangsamoro police (which is still part of the Philippine National Police), etc.,” the editorial also said.

The MILF also asked Mr. Alvarez how he would address the issue of “MILF’s weapons and combatants, and the need to normalize the situation? The CAB has all the answers to these concerns.”

“We hope that he will come up with a more definitive articulation of his ideas on the GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF peace process,” it added.