BBL flaws peril Mindanao peace efforts, says ex-Chief Justice Puno

Published by rudy Date posted on June 3, 2015

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno has warned that the vulnerability of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to constitutional attacks might jeopardize efforts to bring about a lasting peace in Mindanao.

In a statement issued on Monday, Puno said there were valid constitutional objections to the draft BBL that needed to be addressed thoroughly in order to prevent the Bangsamoro people from giving up on peace.

Noting that the mixed opinions on the draft BBL lean more toward unconstitutionality, Puno said the proposed measure could be the subject of legal disputes in the future.

“If you have that kind of dispute, you have the danger of the Bangsamoro saying, ‘That’s it. We don’t want this kind of arrangement anymore,’” he added.

The best solution, he said, is to call a constitutional convention (Con-con) whose members could be elected simultaneously in next year’s elections.

The draft BBL is only possible under a federal-parliamentary form of government, which is not allowed under the Constitution, he said.

“We are limited by the boundaries of power set in the 1987 Constitution. The powers in the Constitution are centralized in the national government,” Puno pointed out.

The 1987 Constitution provides that the national government can only delegate certain powers, which are subject to many conditions and are not permanently delegated, as in the case of the draft BBL, he said.

“The national government can always take these powers. In other words, even if you have this BBL, it is a temporary solution. In other words, if you have the Con-con, and the Con-con rearranges the division of power between the national government and the entities like the BBL, or the entities that will be forming the federal state, or the substate, then you will have a permanent solution to this problem,” he explained.

He said this kind of solution would be the subject of a nationwide plebiscite, meaning “it’s the whole Filipino people who will approve this, not only the people in Mindanao or in the affected areas.”

“The search for peace in Mindanao should be a continuing search. We should never give up the search for peace in Mindanao come what may,” he added.–Jerome Aning

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