Four of 10 Filipinos vs Bangsamoro basic law

Posted on March 20, 2015

FORTY-FOUR PERCENT of Filipinos are against a proposed law giving self-rule to Moros in Mindanao, Pulse Asia said, citing a recent survey conducted a month after a bloody mission in Mamasapano, Maguindanao killed 44 police commandos, 18 rebels and five civilians.

The same survey, conducted March 1 to 7, or a little more than a month after the Jan. 25 incident, said that the percentage of Filipinos who are undecided about the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) -- the government’s centerpiece agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) -- is at 36%. The figure is higher than 21% of the population that are in agreement.

The survey also indicated that opposition to the law’s passage is more pronounced in Mindanao, where the envisioned core territories of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region are located.

More than half of Mindanao residents -- at 62% -- is opposed to the BBL while those in Luzon and Visayas are at 32% and 43%, respectively.

Government peace panel chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that “public awareness on the BBL is based on misinformation on the actual contents of the BBL. If you ask people if they want the Bangsamoro to have a separate police and army and not be audited by the CoA (Commission on Audit), naturally they will say no.”

“If you ask them if they want the Bangsamoro to separate from the country, you will get the same answer. But that is not what the BBL says. What the BBL provides is the exact opposite,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

“Almost every day, our team is in one public forum or another. But it’s tough if the misinformation is deliberate,” she added in a separate text message.

For his part, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Q. Iqbal said that the survey “has no bearing” whatsoever on their determination to push for the peace process with the Philippine government.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives will resume its probe on the Mamasapano clash between police and Moro fighters on April 7 to 8, deferring discussions anew on the BBL.

Basilan Rep. Hadjiman “Jim” S. Hataman-Salliman, chairman of the House committee on peace, reconciliation and unity -- one of two committees in charge of the inquiry -- confirmed the date, adding the panel has already received the 128-page report of the Philippine National Police Board of Inquiry on the clash.

Before any date was set for the probe’s resumption, two petitions were circulated by lawmakers among the chamber’s 290 members: one seeking to reopen the probe, the other calling to hold off BBL deliberations. Some 120 members have reportedly signed for the probe resumption.

Executive sessions on the BBL were pushed back anew to April 20-30 from the original April 6-16 schedule, according to ad hoc committee chairman and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd district).

The bloodbath has taken its toll on the passage of the BBL, a measure seen to bring lasting peace in Mindanao by allowing self-rule in the region through a parliamentary form of government, alongside block grants and financial perks amounting to some P70 billion.

Congress is on a break since Wednesday night and will resume on May 4. Its leaders have earlier agreed to approve the proposed law by June 30.

In Davao City, the chairman of the Mindanao Business Council, Vicente T. Lao, has denied the allegation circulating in text messages that he is being used by Malaysia as a “bagman” to bribe legislators for the passage of the proposed BBL.

The circulating text says Mr. Lao, who is mislabeled in the message as “vice-chair of the Mindanao Development Council”, is dangling P200 million each to senators and P50 million each to members of the House of Representatives in exchange for their signature on the BBL.

Mr. Lao said he suspects he is being dragged into the muddle hounding the BBL because of his open and staunch support to the proposed law despite opposition following the fire fight in Mamasapano, Maguindanao which left 44 police special action force men, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front members, and several civilians dead.

“Unless we will have peace in these areas, it will never be developed to provide a better life for our brother Muslims in Mindanao,” he said. -- Alden M. Monzon, Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Carmelito Q. Francisco and Albert F. Arcilla