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A Bangsamoro EO, just in case

Just in case plans for revising the Philippine Constitution get delayed or derailed, or Congress fails anew to enact a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), President Duterte has drawn up plans for a Bangsamoro territory to be created via an executive order.

The President has long been speaking about the “historical injustice” to the Moro people of Mindanao and is determined to correct this with greater autonomy, a greater share of resources, a greater say in their own affairs — greater than what is now provided in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

For this goal, mass organizations such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fought government forces for years, until they reached a consensus during the last administration for a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. A Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was drawn up and was awaiting enactment by Congress but time ran out and the 16th Congress passed on, along with the Benigno S. Aquino III administration, without any action on the BBL.

Greater autonomy for the Moro people is believed to be at the center of President Duterte’s efforts to revise the Constitution. At the same time, the proposed BBL Act has been resubmitted to Congress. And just in case these moves suffer setbacks, the President will issue an Executive Order delineating the territory for Bangsamoro self-rule.

Former President Corazon C. Aquino created the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) through Executive Order 220 in 1987, according to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, and this could well serve as a guide for a Duterte executive order on Bangsamoro territory. The President met with MILF leaders Al Hadj Murad, Ghadzali Jaafar, and Mohagher Iqbal in Davao City on his matter last week.

The administration is still banking on Congress to enact the BBL Law and on the proposed Constitutional Assembly later to provide for a Bangsamoro region or state as part of a federal system of government. But in case of any undue delay, the President should be able to achieve via executive order his long-sought goal of correcting an old historical injustice through an autonomous Bangsamoro region.

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