Four senatorial candidates said they were against the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) aimed at creating a new Bangsamoro entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In a forum in Adamson University on Friday, senatorial bets Lorna Kapunan, Francis Tolentino, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Greco Belgica were united in saying that they were all for peace and development and Mindanao, but noted the BBL was marred with “constitutional infirmities.”
“I do not agree with the law but I agree with the concept of the law for peace in Mindanao,” Kapunan said, adding that bill needs some “cleansing.”
“I’ve read the BBL and marami talagang questionable provisions, and even Mindanaoans are not in favor of the BBL,” said Gatchalian.
Belgica, an independent candidate, echoed his fellow lawyer Kapunan and said the BBL was “constitutionally infirmed,” noting that “there cannot be two courts and two laws in one nation.”
Kapunan and Gatchalian are running under the ticket of Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero.
Tolentino, former chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority, expressed fears that the BBL would cause “dismemberment” in the country and a division in the government’s police and military forces.
“I am for peace, development, and progress in Mindanao, but kapag dismemberment na sating bansa, magbabawas ng isang bahagi, hindi na po ako papayag noon. Pero kung ang konsepto po ay para tumaas ang antas ng pamumuhay ng mga Muslim, payag po ako doon. Kung ang konsepto ay para magamit nang mabuti ang natural resources ng Mindanao, payag po ako doon,” he said.
“Pero kung hahatiin po ang Pilipinas, kung magkakaroon tayo ng dalawang Armed Forces of the Philippines, dalawang Philippine National Police, hindi na po ako payag doon,” Tolentino added.
The House of Representatives failed to pass the BBL, a key component of the peace pact inked by the Aquino administration with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, when it adjourned in February.