The Bangsamoro legal entity is a bell that heralds hope for peace and progress in Mindanao.
Before the close of 2014 we wrote about the provisions in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that clash with the Constitution. In the news last week, the Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Representative Rufus Rodriguez, said that some 10 to 15 provisions of the draft BBL will be deleted before it is referred to the Senate to ensure that the law will stand scrutiny by the Supreme Court.
I hope in earnest that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be rid of questionable provisions and that it will come to pass. While the observations of the Philippine Constitution Association, led by constitutionalist, Manuel M. Lazaro, as well as by UP College of Law professor, Merlin M. Magallona, are valid and legally sound–that the draft law has many provisions that clash with the Constitution—in my heart I wish the BBL will not suffer the fate that befell the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. The MOA-AD was struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2008. While many of the provisions of the MOA AD were retained in the draft BBL, the intent to make the BBL harmonize with the Constitution to pave the way for the Moros of Mindanao to enjoy real autonomy and self-determination is clear.
If only to make way for peace and for Mindanao to rise from age-old poverty by self-determination, the Bangsamoro legal entity deserves to be given a break. War and insurgency in Mindanao, after all, have been raging for over four decades now. In fact, the resistance of the Moro people against subjugation dates back to the 16th century when Spain tried, but failed, to colonize Mindanao. When Spain sold the Philippines to America for 20 million dollars through the Treaty of Paris which was signed in December 1898, Spain had no right to include Mindanao in the sale and the Americans had no right to buy it. The American colonizers conquered Mindanao just the same but it was by killing most of the Moros and the other inhabitants of the island. Mindanao has, therefore, never enjoyed peace or had the chance to rise from abject poverty because its people—the Moros and the Lumad—have always been at war.
The creation of the Bangsamoro legal entity is, to my mind, the best step toward achieving peace in Mindanao and allowing its people to chart for themselves their destiny.
History has shown us that the unitary, centralized type of government has never worked for Mindanao. Mindanao’s distance from the seat of national government, and its divergent culture, ideology and socio-political character, call for a federalized form of government. If the Constitution will need amending to make way for the Bangsamoro legal entity to become a reality, we should not shirk from it. For all we know, the success of the Bangsamoro in self-determination could show the way for other regions of the country to also petition that they be given greater autonomy in much the same way.
Federalism seems the natural way for our divergent regions to go. Filipinos are naturally clannish because, perhaps, of the way our archipelago is configured. Filipinos call themselves by, and affiliate themselves with, their ethnic identities such as Ilocanos, Ilonggos, Cebuanos, Bicolanos, Visayans, Moros, Tagalogs, Igorots, Kapampangans, etcetera.
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Sounding a warning bell is the last thing I wish to do in welcoming the New Year. Yet, it will be well for parents to know that something disturbing is happening in some exclusive high school parties. A new trend, described as sex partying, has been taking place among teenagers belonging to posh and exclusive private high schools. While there have been no official reports published, stories among those who have participated in such parties say that most of the young students of opposite sexes who attend them do not know initially how the party will turn out. Before they realize it, they are made to wear blindfolds. Then, sex games meant to allow them to explore their sexuality, are done. They then end up having sex with someone they do not know or have not even had the chance to see.
There have been cases of teen-age pregnancies where the young females did not even know who fathered their unborn child. There has also been a case where a brother and a sister allegedly made out because they did not know they were both in the same party.
Locked-door sex parties of this kind started as a trend in exclusive schools in the United States, mostly in Manhattan, sometime in 2013. In the Philippines, most parents are not aware what happens to their young daughters and sons when they attend parties which normally begin very late at night. Parties of this kind are so organized as to ensure privacy and secrecy.
The first duty of every parent—more than just faithfully attending masses and booking in a hotel close to where Pope Francis will hold masses during his visit this month—is to make sure they know where their kids are at any given time and what they are up to. The only way to do this is to maintain good communication lines with one’s children to get a sense of the activities they get involved in. Despite their youth and peer pressure, young people will know when to say no if the moral fiber they were raised with is strong enough.
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