AN INFLUENTIAL and respected Tausug politician has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to make good on his threat to establish a “revolutionary government,” so he could quickly reconfigure the country’s regions and shift to a federal form of government.
Dr. Sakur “Datu Shabandar” Tan, who is running anew for governor of Sulu in the May elections, made the statement ahead of the plebiscite for the controversial Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on January 21 and February 6 in the soon-tobe abolished Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
If the BOL, or Republic Act (RA) 11054, is approved, it will replace the ARMM with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which will be dominated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that signed a peace deal with the Philippine government in 2014. Tan’s son, Sulu Gov. Toto Tan, filed a petition with the Supreme Court last year questioning the legality and constitutionality of the BOL. The Philippine Constitution Association has also asked the high court to reject the BOL, saying the law violates the 1987 Constitution that mandated only one organic act for Muslim Mindanao, the ARMM law or RA 6734 passed in 1989 and amended by RA 9054 in 2001.
The elder Tan is opposed to the BOL just as he had opposed the inclusion of Sulu to the Bangsamoro region. But he is in favor of federalism, where Sulu could join more prosperous provinces in western Mindanao as originally was. prior to ARMM.
“Only through federalism can you configure the territories that will constitute the federal states and not cluster only the laggards together like the five provinces in the ARMM,” he said, referring to Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.
“Now they say that [BOL] it is also federalism where one region will become the BOL, but it is not. It is an isolation, because it will only be constituted by five provinces that are laggards, so it is only through federalism that you can mix the laggards with the affluent, otherwise, these laggards will never progress,” Tan said in an interview.
“We should declare a revolutionary government to make things easier… So the President can now appoint members of the commission that will draft the new Constitution and then come up with the new government and then come up with the form of government that we will have. Instead of a unitary form of government, then we can have a parliamentary-federal system of government,” Tan said.
“It is far better than creating a monster like the BOL,” he said.
Duterte has repeatedly vowed to push for a change in form of government — from presidential system to federal — and had even threatened to make Mindanao a federal region if lawmakers failed to amend the Constitution to pave the way for a federal government.
Duterte has also vowed to step down — even before his term ends on 2022 — as soon as the new federal government becomes fully functional.
He cited the precedent set by President Corazon Aquino, who established a revolutionary government soon after the “People Power” revolt in 1986 that ended the Marcos dictatorship. Aquino sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 Constitution in favor of a provisional charter. She handpicked a commission to write a new Constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987.
“So President Duterte is just being true to his words and he means what he said. If you want a federal system, you must declare a revolutionary government now. Federal system through revolutionary government and if we have to declare it, the sooner the better,” Tan said.
Sulu mayors, Sultans back ‘Revgov’
Tan said majority of the municipal mayors and leaders of Sulu support the establishment of a federal government, including five influential sultans — Sultans Ibrahim Bahjin, Muizuddin Jainal Bahjin, Muedzul-lail Kiram, Mohammad Venizar Julkarnain Jainal Abirin and Phugdalun Kiram.
“More than half of the mayors or 15 out of the 19 municipalities overwhelmingly [approved this] and joined me in this clamor for federalism and if need be, call for [the establishment of] a revolutionary government. The legitimate sultans of Sulu will also join us, and I am very sure of that. As their spokesman and special envoy, I speak for the Royal Council of the Sultanate of Sulu comprising the five Sultans of Sulu,” he said.
He said the lawyers of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption were set to file a petition before the Supreme Court to intervene in the original case filed by his son, the Sulu governor.
Tan took a swipe at the group of MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim, who went to Sulu recently to campaign for the ratification of the BOL.
“For us, we held a series of fora where we tried to make the people participate and understand what BOL and federalism is all about. You do not just come and make people participate without making them understand. That is the problem of people who just come to our area and tell our people this is it and this is that, without making them understand. They think that people here are stupid, and they don’t know that our people also think they are stupid,” he said.
Just recently, some 10,000 Tausugs rallied behind the proposed establishment of a federal government. The Tans and members of the pro-duterte group called Kilusang Pagbabago led by Ariel Urao, and municipal mayors, also participated in the rally.
Wedzmar Abdurajak, an executive assistant of presidential daughter and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, spoke during the rally and thanked organizers and the huge crowd for their support to the proposed shift to a federal government.
Tausugs throw all-out support to federalism. (Mindanao Examiner Photos)
Gov. Toto and Sakur Tan with President Rodrigo Duterte and Sec. Jun Esperon.