(This is the 3rd and last instalment of Sultan Firdausi I. V. Abbas’ opposition to the “amended” Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the Senate Committee of Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.)
By DR. FIRDAUSI I.Y. ABBAS, Ph. D.
Sultan of Lanao
The last sentence of Article ll, Sec. 4 of the Marcos version reads:
“This provision shall not in any way derogate from the provisions of Article lV of the 1987 Philippine Constituion.”
Article lV of the 1987 constitution is a reproduction of the 1935 and 1973 constitutions on Philippine Citizenship. Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Philippine constitution provides “Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this constitution.” This provision is based on the 1973 constitution which provides under Article lll, Section “1) thereof: “Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this constitution.” This provision is likewise based on the 1935 constitution which provides under Article IV, Section 1) thereof: “Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of this constitution.”
The Bangsa Moro is considered to fall under Section 1 of the Article on Philippine C. the constitutionalist Jose N. Nolledo, who was a member of the Presidential Constitutional Commission in 1986 and a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention pointed out three classes of Filipino citizens falling under Section 1– those who are citizens at the time of the adoption of the 1935 constitution: 1. Spanish subjects born in Spain who resided in the Philippines and were residents at the time of the adoption of the 1935 constitution. 2. Spanish subjects born in the Philippines and were residents thereof at the time of the adoption of the 1935 constitution. 3.Spanish subjects by naturalization who were residents of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of the 1935 constitution.
Moros were never Spanish subjects. They cannot even become Spanish subjects or nationals by naturalization under Spanish law because they were Muslims. The Philippine Naturalization law which is based on Spanish and Christian law also disqualifies a Muslim from being naturalized as a Filipino citizen because one of the grounds for disqualification is Belief in Polygamy, thus a Muslim, even if he is not married, but because he believes in polygamy which his religion allows, is disqualified. This is very clear in CA No. 473, a very pernicious law which to this day is enforced: “Section 4 – Who are disqualified- The following cannot be naturalized as Philippine citizens:
c) Polygamists or believers in the practice of polygamy.”
Militant Moro student organizations in the mid-sixties rejected this provision and declared that pursuant to the constitutional provision on citizenship, the Moros are not Filipino Citizens because they were never conquered and never subjects of the Spanish crown.
The fault of Senator Marcos is he was concerned primarily with the alleged constitutional infirmities but his version suffers the same defect. Immediately one sees this in the preamble of his version “… ABOLISHING THE AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO”. Article X, LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, sections 1 and 15 thereof very clearly provides that : Section 1. …There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.” “Section 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras ….” The autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao is a constitutional mandate and cannot be abolished by a mere congressional fiat. It can be re-organized, re-constituted, reformed, re-established etc., but not abolished. Furthermore many of the alleged unconstitutional economic provisions are in R.A. 9054.
Marcos failed to grasp the real import and goal of enacting a law for the south and the Bangsa Moro. It is to usher in peace. Peace can be achieved only if there is mutual respect for each other’s culture, traditions, political dogmas and religions as well as equal protection for the pursuit, practice and enjoyment of these rights for as long as laws are not transgressed; economic contentment which means economic opportunity in the areas, efficient basic services and just administration of the laws. But before all these, there must be acknowledgment of the historicity of the Bangsa Moro and their inalienable right to their patrimony. When the bases-historic and legal for these are negated, then there will be resentment and protest.
To sum it up, what Marcos did was much ado over nothing.
Bangsa Moro Constitutional Convention
Neither the MNLF nor the MILF can solve the problem in the south. The fate of the Bangsa Moro is not even in their combined hands. They are not even .1% of the roughly 16 to 18 million Moros and their arms combined is not even 5% of the arms of the Bangsa Moro. Furthermore, they have failed to prove their competence and ability to lead. The MNLF controlled the ARMM for five years which was a dismal failure. The MILF in a short span of time exposed their ignorance of Islam and the historicity of the Bangsa Moro and their propensity to control the new political entity pursuant to the very law they propose and the appointment of Mohagher Igbal’s nephew as COMELEC Commissioner.
The Moro people yearn for peace and live normal lives. The fiery cry for secession has been tempered by the acceptance of autonomy long ago but unfortunately autonomy has been as elusive as independence. The government must adopt concrete measures to avert the resurgence of radicalism of the Moro youth which if infused with the zealous and fanatical jihadism now engulfing the middle east and aggressively gaining adherents the world over, will be a phenomenal force terribly impossible to pacify and difficult to overcome.
Congress should now pass a law calling for a Bangsa Moro constitutional convention wherein all the Moro sectors shall be guaranteed appointed representatives and together with freely elected delegates duly reflect in this fundamental law the historicity, identity, aspirations, sentiments, hopes and dreams of the Bangsa Moro. Only when all the stakeholders have the right to be represented and participate in the enactment of the fundamental law for the Bangsa Moro can the viable and correct approach in solving the age-old Mindanao problem really commence.
(The writer is the President of the Muslim Bar Association of the Philippines, Inc., Chairman of the Bangsa Moro Party and Chairman of the United Filipino Movement .)