"There are only two autonomous regions recognized by the Charter."

Catriona Gray has been named Miss Universe 2018. Her mother is Filipino and her father is Australian, which leads many to ask—is she truly a Filipino?

This may well be asked of the others who brought home the crown: Pia Wurtzbach, who has a German father, and Margie Moran and Gloria Diaz, who both had Spanish origins.

But being Filipino is to have mixed origins, because we had so many colonizers. Catriona is a true Filipina.

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I have doubts on the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. In fact, the Philippine Constitution Association or Philconsa filed a petition before the Supreme Court on Dec. 11, challenging its constitutionality.

The Philconsa assailed Republic Act 11054 creating the BOL to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as a result of the peace deal between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.

My doubts stem from the fact that Article X, Sections 18 and 19 of our Constitution recognizes only two autonomous regions—the ARMM and the Cordillera Autonomous Region. The replacement of this requires an amendment of the 1987 Constitution.

Philconsa pointed out the basic fact that only the Constitution will allow the creation of an autonomous region.

Political participation through the ARMM was part of the 1996 final peace agreement between the government and the MILF, a group that broke away from the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari.

The Philconsa petition was direct to the point saying that an exercise of power by the legislature and the executive departments or any of their respective functionaries beyond that as circumscribed by the Constitution and law is unconstitutional and a nullity.

The Philconsa also cited the deliberation of the constitutional commission that drafted the 1987 Charter, which it said was crystal clear that the ARMM and the CAR were the only autonomous regions recognized by the Constitution.

It is therefore logical that when Congress created an autonomous region like the BAR, it countered the provisions of the Constitution. I rest my case.

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Santa Banana, there must be something wrong about the opposition. In all the poll surveys, only one senatorial candidate is being mentioned as a possible winner—former Transportation secretary and presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II.

Not even reelectionist Bam Aquino is in the Magic 12, my gulay. This seems to me a clear indication that the people have grown tired of the opposition.

This is unfortunate because we need oppositionists in the Senate in addition to Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Lilia de Lima.

It may be argued that it’s still early to make an assessment of the 2019 polls. This may be so, but it seems the majority in the Magic 12 are pro-administration.

This finding indicates 2 things: First, there is no viable opposition candidate who resonates with the people. Second, the people do not like the return of the Yellows.

I say it is unfortunate because the Senate is ideally an independent institution, not composed of minions of the Executive.

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I would say that the admnistration’s push for federalism is dead in the water. I do not know when it will come up again, if ever, because of the fact that most Filipinos are not aware of what federalism is about.

People are indifferent to it, actually. It would be in the interest of the administration to NOT make it an issue in the 2018 polls. The bottom line is, it is not yet time for the country to make a leap into the unknown.

People should be educated and informed about what federalism is about. As it is, there are now fears that federalism can lead to separatism. We are an archipelago composed of people with different dialects, culture and traditions.

Aside from this, the Philippines has other basic problems to attend to: Poverty, joblessness and rising prices.

First things first, Santa Banana!

* * *

I congratulate SM for being in business for 60 years. I also commend its founder Henry Sy Sr. and his children for making SM a by-word for most households. Imagine there are now 71 SM stores all over the Philippines and four SM outlets in China!

I happen to know how SM started. Sy was a young man who sold export surpluses from Boston on Carriedo Street. The first SM was at the corner of Avenida Rizal and Plaza Goiti.

SM stood for the initials of Sy’s best friend, Senen Mendiola. Foreigners were not allowed to do retail.

Sy is a good friend. When he opened SM Makati, I used to have coffee with him at Elysse Cafe´. He told me he wanted to have an SM in every nook of the country. And he did it!

He may be the richest Filipino but he certainly does not forget his friends.

Thank you Henry and Merry Christmas to the family.

Topics: Catriona Gray , Miss Universe , Henry Sy Sr , SM , Manuel Roxas II , Bangsamoro Organic Law , Philippine Constitution Association
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