Right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION - MUS­SOLINI S. LIDASAN opin­ion@suns­tar.com.ph

In the past few weeks, I ac­tively par­tic­i­pated the se­ries of pub­lic hear­ings of the Sub-Com­mit­tee on the Bangsamoro Ba­sic Law in the Se­nate. We had long hear­ings in Manila and in the prov­inces of Basi­lan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. We also went to the City of Zamboanga and heard the voices of our peo­ple and their stand on the Bangsamoro Ba­sic Law (BBL).

Dur­ing these pub­lic hear­ings, I could sense the need for the Filipino peo­ple to un­der­stand the essence of the “right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Bangsamoro peo­ple. We need to un­der­stand this in or­der for us to sup­port the pas­sage of the BBL.

In the dif­fer­ent prov­inces, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, and barangays of the Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion in Mus­lim Min­danao (ARMM), the peo­ple on the ground fully sup­port the pas­sage of the BBL. We were warmly wel­comed by our peo­ple com­ing from dif­fer­ent sec­tors.

The high­light of the re­cent pub­lic hear­ings boiled down to the clamor of the Bangsamoro peo­ple to ex­press their right to self de­ter­mi­na­tion. But what do we mean by right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion?

We need to bear mind that there is no clear and pre­cise def­i­ni­tion as to the con­cept of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion. What we may have now are key con­cepts from the United Na­tions and the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights and the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Eco­nomic, So­cial and Cul­tural Rights.

Self de­ter­mi­na­tion is a prin­ci­ple in in­ter­na­tional law that al­lows the peo­ple of a state to de­ter­mine the sovereignty and po­lit­i­cal sta­tus of that state “with­out any in­ter­fer­ence.” More­over, the right to self de­ter­mi­na­tion means the right of a group of peo­ple to freely de­ter­mine and con­trol their po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic or so­cial-cul­tural des­tinies.

In the whole Bangsamoro peace process, we need to trust the sin­cer­ity and com­mit­ment of the Bangsamoro peo­ple

The de­vel­op­ment of the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion is in tan­dem with the de­vel­op­ment of govern­ment. Also, this right traces its ori­gins as a po­lit­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ple to the demo­cratic prin­ci­ples pro­claimed by the Amer­i­can and French rev­o­lu­tions of 1776 and 1789 re­spec­tively. All these prin­ci­ples are eas­ier said than done.

Po­lit­i­cal and fis­cal au­ton­omy re­quires more ma­ture and com­pe­tent lead­ers and in­formed con­stituents in or­der for the demo­cratic process to func­tion well. Dis­cussing this is­sue also opens the fear of other peo­ple on the con­cept of se­ces­sion. The MILF Cen­tral Com­mit­tee cat­e­gor­i­cally said that they are no longer fight­ing for in­de­pen­dence.

There are groups who are propos­ing we put words in the BBL to en­sure that the Bangsamoro will not se­cede from the coun­try. And that the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion will be only within the con­text of the Philip­pine Repub­lic.

We should give re­spect to MILF and the mem­bers of their Cen­tral Com­mit­tee. It was clearly stated in the BTC draft BBL that the Bangsamoro rec­og­nizes the supremacy of the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion. The ter­ri­tory of the Bangsamoro is within the Philip­pine Repub­lic. What more do other peo­ple want from the MILF?

In the whole Bangsamoro peace process, we need to trust the sin­cer­ity and com­mit­ment of the Bangsamoro peo­ple. Trust and good re­la­tion­ship can­not be leg­is­lated. It is a con­tin­u­ing process of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion.

Lastly, no amount of leg­is­la­tion can be en­acted by Congress to stop the peo­ple to fight for their in­de­pen­dence when the govern­ment is per­se­cut­ing and op­press­ing them.

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