All I can say is that it is an act tantamount to secession.

- The law categorically describes all inhabitants within the BBL controlled land as Bangsamoro. Not Filipino. Bangsamoro. The law also categorically depicts the Bangsamoro Political Entity as a nation-state, with the eminent right to “self-determination”, or the power to determine whether they want to remain part of the republic or not.
(Art. 2 section 1 of the BBL Draft) (BBL preamble)

- The law requires the republic to guarantee the inclusion of one Bangsamoro representative in each of the critical agencies of the government. While representation is indeed something I will root for, the ability of the Bangsamoro state to undermine the power of the government to determine via qualification the right people for the right agency and bypass that by a mere appointment to represent the Bangsamoro state is highly self-motivated.

- Contrary to what the government peace panel has been saying, the BBL establishes the core component of a state based government, ascending only coordinating powers to the Republic. Sections 3 and 4 of Article V of the BBL delineates the powers of the Central Government (which in their term is the Republic of the Philippines) and the Bangsamoro Government. What is scary is that majority of the provisions in these sections arbitrarily surrenders control of banking, finance, land registration, police powers, and other powers reserved usually to the state (the republic of the Philippines) to the Bangsamoro government. In effect, they have fully functioning mini-nation ready for secession.

- The Bangsamoro Government gets the power to dissolve and create local government units under Article V section 4 of the BBL. Under item 57 of the said section, the Bangsamoro Parliament can abolish, create, merge, or alter boundaries of the local units under their control. Now this is reserved usually to the Congress of the republic, therefore the BBL parliament has quasi-legislative powers that are almost equivalent to Congress.

- Article VI section 4 requires the Republic to refer to the Intergovernmental Relations Body to intervene when agencies under the republic have issues with corresponding Bangsamoro agency, or if there are differences between policy among Republic and the Bangsamoro State. This emphasizes that while (for the meantime) the Bangsamoro state is part of the country, the Republic could not act to secure national issues involving the Bangsamoro State without adjudication of the IRB. Hence, the departments and agencies of the republic have virtually no power in BBL controlled lands. It is also questionable why it would take only the intervention of the republic, and only if acknowledged by the chief minister of the Bangsamoro State, can these agencies exercise their roles on Bangsamoro state.

- Article VII describes the creation of the Bangsamoro Government, with full legislative and executive powers. Section 2 allows the legislative arm to enact LAWS, not ordinances, LAWS to govern the state. Section 3 establishes the powers of the cabinet within the Bangsamoro, and though there is no direct guideline as to the identity of each ministerial position in this cabinet, I would assume that this will mimic a fully functioning cabinet based on the structure of the republic, therefore, they will have their own minister for defense, justice, public works, local government, and interior, etc.

- Contrary to what the government peace panel is saying, none of the agencies under the Bangsamoro Government are under the Republic. The operative word used in all associations between the Bangsamoro agencies and the agencies under the republic is “in cooperation with” and not “under the”. Hence, each Bangsamoro agency can (and most probably will) determine department policy of existing government agencies as “non-conforming under the Basic Law” and not follow such order. Imagine the chief of the PNP giving a shoot-to-kill order vs a notorious terrorist hiding in Bangsamoro controlled lands, only to have that order deemed as inappropriate by the Bangsamoro Minister of Interior.

- Article X establishes the Bangsamoro Shari’ ah courts, whose basis for dispensing justice is based on the Shari’ ah law. The wording in this article relates to the jurisdiction of the Shari’ah courts over the entire Bangsamoro state, without any reference to the Justice system of the republic. Simply put, any decision made by the Shari’ah High Court is final and executory without any deference to the Supreme Court of the Philippines. If you get sentenced there, you cannot appeal to the SC. Another item mentioned in this article is the mandatory place of at least one SC justice, and a number of Court of Appeals justices as coming from the Bangsamoro state. It obviously cuts the presidential privilege of appointment and undermines the power of the Commission on Appointments.

- Article XI does emphasize that the Bangsamoro Police Force is under the PNP. However, the Chief minister of the Bangsamoro has, categorically, complete control over the assignment, deployment, and operational and disciplinary control over it. So if you have any qualms over a police officer over there, don’t try and run to Camp Crame for resolution. They practically have no power to sanction police under the Bangsamoro.

- The Bangsamoro has the power to legislate and impose taxes and fees within the Bangsamoro controlled lands, a right that is organically reserved to the republic. Enough said. Article XII sections 6 to 14 of the BBL.

- Contrary to what the government peace panel is saying, the Bangsamoro Government has complete fiscal autonomy. Pending the creation of its own internal revenue bureau, the BIR will collect taxes in behalf of the Bangsamoro remitting 75% of the collections directly to the Bangsamoro coffers. The remaining 25% is for the republic, however, the Bangsamoro is to retain the amount for 10 years. Congress has no control over the fiscal management of these funds, only those that have been appropriated through the National Budget. In short, while the national government is obligated to provide funding to projects within the Bangsamoro state, the BG is not required to remit any of the government shares in income within their areas for the next 10 years! And to top that, the Bangsamoro retains the right to extend that period beyond 10 years!

In the 18 articles within the BBL, I saw no mention of the word Filipino, the Philippines, nor any reference to the Republic. The entire text consolidates power in the south as if they are separate from the country. I could not, with a clear conscience, say that this is a peace treaty, but rather an invitation to secession.

Read the BBL in its entirety. Accept the challenge of the so-called peace panel. You would be surprised at what you might discover.

By:  Professor N. Bautista and Abu Hasiq

Also see: Bangsamoro Basic Law draft