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POSTSCRIPT / May 17, 2015 / Sunday
 
Passing BBL is like legislating divorce
By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

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THE CREATION of a unique federal Bangsamoro region in Muslim Mindanao, one with clear prospects of emerging in time as a separate independent state, is as excruciating as passing a divorce law in this dominantly Catholic country.
Many of those against passing a Bangsamoro Basic Law are as much controlled by the emotional ties binding the nation as those who fear that a divorce law could unleash forces leading to the disintegration of the Filipino family.
While Muslims may feel the tension between snuggling in the arms of a negligent government and letting go to set up their own bangsa so do members of a Filipino family worry that the centrifugal force of divorce could scatter them away from their accustomed hearth.
It is in light of this analogy of divorce, btw, that we wonder why Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, a papabile in the last conclave, supports — or allows his name to be used to endorse – the draft BBL as if he has no qualms about splintering the nation-family.
The cardinal’s failure to attend the few public appearances of the so-called Peace Council has been intriguing, more so with the likelihood that he did not even have time to read the voluminous BBL documents.
The pain of parting may be eased by a mutual desire to chart separately one another’s future after an honest unburdening within the family and after attempts to understand and neutralize the pressure to move apart.
• Foreign meddling ruins purity of intentions
BUT DOUBTS as to the wisdom of breaking away creep in when the domestic dialogue is influenced, or even dictated, by meddlesome neighbors and distant relatives claiming to protect the best interests of the family they are pushing to break up.
It is unacceptable that the creation of a Bangsamoro is inspired or instigated by neighbors whose motives are suspect and aided by big powers whose larger geopolitical designs are too obvious to ignore.
If we are to allow the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to emerge as a separate Islamic state, let that decision for self-determination be a deliberate internal decision and not the result of the machination of neighbors and big powers.
There should be airtight safeguards in the BBL against the eventual Balkanization of Mindanao and the spinning off of a strategic area as a client-state of the big powers operating through a Malayan neighbor.
The Senate and the House committees shepherding the BBL bill are under pressure to approve the final draft in time for plenary approval before the session adjourns on June 12.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos and Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairs of the Senate and House committees working on the draft, are facing an acid test as worthy presidential materials. Their BBL handling is being watched.
Senate and House leaders privately tell friends, meanwhile, they are uncertain if they could muster enough votes to ensure the BBL’s signing by President Noynoy Aquino before his valedictory State of the Nation Address on July 27.
• Sultanate: KL has spent $2.2B for BBL
THE SULTANATE of Sulu – whose territory and followers are to be incorporated into the proposed Bangsamoro being created for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – reports that billions from a slush fund have been spent by Kuala Lumpur for the BBL approval.
“The funding for the BBL approval is the same reason why Mahathir Mohamad is moving to remove Prime Minister Najib Razak,” Sultanate sources said. “Corruption has been traced to Razak personal accounts. The special section has a reported total of $2.2 billion spent to support the BBL for the last five years.”
The Sultanate said it was intrigued by a Malaysian invitation to chair Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front, the MILF’s mother group, to discuss possibly reviving his envisioned “Bangsamoro Republik” encompassing Sulu archipelago and Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo.
The sultanate denounced “this sinister plan of the United States and Great Britain to carve out an independent Islamic state out of Southern Mindanao, Sabah and Sarawak that is pro-West, with the US and UK acting as protector and Malaysia operating as their tool.”
Princess Jacel Kiram, speaking for the sultanate, reiterated their decision with Sultan Ismail Kiram to keep sacred the 1935 edict of Sultan Jamalul Kiram II ceding the Sulu archipelago to the Philippine Republic.
• Malaysia PM under pressure to resign
IN MALAYSIA, Najib has been resisting mounting calls for him to resign amid a new controversy over his handling of a state investment fund that is billions of dollars in debt.
Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years under the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), is calling for his resignation over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad​ investment fund managed by Najib.
The fund, raised from people’s savings, was used to buy land in Kuala Lumpur’s new financial district for almost $60 million. Najib has denied that the purchase was made to bail out the fund from debt.
Mahathir has also raised questions on the murder in 2006 of Mongolian socialite Altantuya​ Shaariibuu​ who was at the center a scandal over high-level corruption involving Malaysia’s buying two French and Spanish submarines when Najib​ was defense minister.
Najib’s bodyguard who has been sentenced to death for gunning down the 28-year-old socialite despite her pleas to spare her unborn child told police he was just following orders. It was not clear who ordered him, but he has been quoted as saying that “the important people with motive (for the murder) are still free.”
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