Lidasan: Facts vs. Myths about the BBL Part 1 of 2 Series

THERE are many myths about the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that are being circulated and discussed on print and social media that cloud the minds of our nation and most especially our lawmakers.

As part of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), it is unfair that these myths are going around without really consulting and asking us about this matter. As a Presidential appointee, we drafted the BBL that is not only compliant with all the Bangsamoro peace process agreements but also with the Philippine Constitution. The BTC is mandated by law to make sure that the provisions in the BBL clearly follows the laws of the land.

Through the help of our legal team with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) and the secretariat of the BTC, we prepared Basic Facts of the BBL for our people to understand the BBL. To those who are interested to get copies of the Basic Facts, they may check the website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts of Opapp, Al Qalam Institute of the Ateneo de Davao University, and the #BBLNatin Movement.

Let's discuss them one by one:

MYTH: That the Bangsamoro will be an independent state separate from the Philippines, with its inhabitants having a citizenship different from the rest of the Filipinos. FACTS: The Bangsamoro will not be an independent state. It will remain part of the territory of the Republic of the Philippines and its inhabitants will remain Filipino citizens. The BBL clearly provides (Art. III, Sec.1):“… The Bangsamoro territory shall remain a part of the Philippines.”

MYTH: That the creation of the Bangsamoro provided NOT in the 1987 Constitution? FACT: Not True: The 1987 Constitution (Art. X, Sec. 15) provides for the creation of an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao: “There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.” Moreover, the BBL provides, “The purpose of this Basic Law is to establish a political entity, provide for its basic structure of government in recognition of the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and posterity and allow for meaningful self-governance.” (BBL, Article I, Sec. 3)

MYTH: That the Bangsamoro identity is imposed on all inhabitants in the Bangsamoro areas irrespective of their socio-cultural and religious affinity and ancestry. FACT: No, the Bangsamoro identity is not being imposed on anyone. Under the proposed BBL, people will have a right to choose to identify themselves as Bangsamoro. The proposed BBL provides that “those who, at the advent of the Spaniards, were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan, and their descendants, whether of mixed or of full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro by ascription or self-ascription. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro” (Art. II, Sec. 1). This means that a person has to claim himself or herself as Bangsamoro. The proposed BBL also states that “the freedom of choice of other indigenous peoples shall be respected. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of identity, religion, and ethnicity.” (Art. II, Sec. 2)

MYTH: That the Bangsamoro will be an Islamic state where Shari’ah law will be applied to all of its inhabitants, Moros, Christians and Lumads alike. FACT: NOT TRUE. There is nowhere in the proposed BBL that an Islamic State is mentioned, even more so to be established.

MYTH: That the Bangsamoro will have its own armed forces, foreign policy, and currency. FACT: NOT TRUE. It is clearly stated in the proposed BBL that defense and external security, foreign policy, coinage and monetary policy, among others, are reserved powers of the Central Government. Therefore, the Bangsamoro will not have its own armed forces, foreign policy, and currency (see BBL, Art. V, Sec. 1).

For the other MYTHs vs. FACTs, please read my article next week. If there are any questions, clarifications, or feedback I may be reached at mslidasan@addu.edu.ph.
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