SCANNING my TV set yesterday morning, I saw the ANC coverage of the Senate hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). I tarried for a while trying to make sense of what was being discussed at that particular moment. But I gave up after seeing too many close-ups of the head of the Senate committee on local governments, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
One question flitted in my mind and it bothered me: Why is the future of Mindanao and of the peace process involving the Bangsamoro put in the hands of the son and namesake of a former dictator?
As I walked away from the TV set after I changed channels, the last days of the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986 played in my mind. Euphoria broke out not only in Edsa but everywhere in the country with reports that the dictator and his family had left the country. Believing in the Edsa revolt’s mantra of “Never again,” I thought that was the last time I would ever see a Marcos in Philippine politics.
Fast-forward three decades later and I thought the joke is upon me. Okay, I’ll rephrase that. The joke is upon us Filipinos.
A couple of days ago, Marcos, who is seeking a higher position, probably for president, released a TV spot, or more properly his campaign advertisement following those of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas, former senator Panfilo Lacson, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
I was shocked by its brazenness.
The ad had Marcos in his library (or was it his office?) touching books in a shelf then turning around to speak as the captions “Sen. Bongbong Marcos” and “Bangsamoro Basic Law” introduced both the speaker and his message on the TV screen.
There was nothing new in what he said: he does not want the passage of the BBL to be rushed, the BBL has many defects and he is looking for an alternative measure that would genuinely bring peace to Mindanao. It was, as noted in the final caption, “Isang Ulat sa Bayan ni Sen. Bongbong Marcos.”
That TV ad was a confirmation that politicians are using the BBL to advance electoral ends. I can now say that Marcos is milking the process for publicity and to advance his political agenda.
Last Monday, a forum was organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). Similar forums have been held in Cebu and in other parts of the country to explain the peace process and the provisions of the BBL. Among those who attended was Thomas Phipps of the British Embassy.
Phipps is a member of the International Contact Group that monitored talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He said that he finds it odd that the 2016 elections have a more profound effect “on the decisions of your legislators.” He was referring to the discussion in Congress of the BBL.
This is not the first time the fate of the nation is being held hostage by politicians jostling for advantage in an electoral exercise. Remember “Edsa 3” on May 1, 2001 when a mob, egged on by politicians, attacked Malacañang to oust then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from power and reinstate Joseph Estrada, who was toppled early that year in Edsa 2?
The attack of the mob was preceded by an opposition rally led by senatorial candidates for the elections held in the same month, including Juan Ponce Enrile, Miriam Defenor-Santiago and Vicente Sotto III.