I GAVE UP writing about the BBL, if anyone noticed, when the House and the Senate began debating it in their respective committees. I didn’t want to preempt Congress, and it seemed a waste of energy to speculate, especially in this heat.

Perhaps I suffered from a “wanton excess of optimism,” but having been fed numerous servings of House ad hoc chair Rufus Rodriguez with the noontime news, I hoped he wasn’t just talking a good game.

Boy, was I wrong.

Poor Rep. Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga did his best to be heard but the LP Express just rammed right through him. He was dogged enough to get a few amendments approved in plenary, but he knew when the majority could take no more. “Naka-quota na ako,” he quipped. The result? The BBL breezed through the House with a few milquetoast changes, the most bandied of which was its redubbing as the “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.” As if that would heal its intrinsic infirmity.


photo: public domain

It was expected, of course, but absolutely infuriating to see these congressmen vote along strictly partisan lines. It is a measure of their incompetence and immaturity that they gave the nod to a process that in its tedium resembled a marathon but was in essence a sprint when what was required was a meandering stroll. And how many besides the 75 members of the ad hoc committee actually read the draft with understanding, I wonder? And how many of them can genuinely say they voted according to conscience? Oh, wait. That’s an invalid parameter.

Pardon the snide remarks, but I am frustrated. The very individuals who are supposed to represent us have not done their duty. They voted without thinking; they let the train fly through, no stops. What am I saying? They drove that train. I am offended that they misrepresented their constituents by failing to thoroughly examine the bill and consider its ultimate effects. What they did was attend a meeting at Malacañang and agree on a script. They made a sham of their office. This is their hackneyed storyline: “let us pass the BBL because we are done with waging war and this is a unique opportunity to wage peace.” It would mean something if they believed it.


The House voting on the BBL on May 18.

I have often stressed here that not all who oppose the BBL are against peace. To say otherwise is to purposely fudge the issue; to insist on it is to garble the voice of reason being relentlessly raised by a hefty few in defense of the Constitution.

This “anti-peace” propaganda is a shameless stratagem meant to demonize the critics. It is used by the highly educated framers of the BBL who have been riding their moral high horse for a while now. They really should know better. “You are not for the BBL therefore you are a warmonger,” is a simplistic, fallacious assertion that has been hurled too many times from the Malacañang pulpit. And the OPAPP and the MILF cry, “Amen!”

Enough already.

We Boss Juans appreciate the “cost of war” and the “price of peace,” but is the currency for this ransom our Constitution, which Malacañang, the OPAPP and the MILF would have us carve and re-mold to suit the contours of the BBL? Really now. There are several reasons to amend the Charter, but the BBL is not among them. I maintain it is the BBL that must be reworked to satisfy constitutional mandates.

It is now up to the Senate to champion this country’s only basic law. Bongbong Marcos has been saying a lot that makes sense, and he promises to walk and not run through the BBL deliberations. I never thought I would say this – and I mean it in a strictly limited sense – but I am counting on him. (He at least has better prose than Rodriguez, though a tad short of Oxfordian.) He says Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s committee report, which warns of the BBL’s unconstitutionality, dovetails with his own views. If TG Guingona’s peace, unification, and reconciliation committee report falls in with the first two, then the Senate position on the BBL is solid.

There’s been talk that Aquino may ask the Senators over to the Palace for a chat. I think I know what the President might tell them.

“All abooooard!”

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