23 Nothing stops Congress from respecting the recommended extra step of a plebiscite, however. C ONCLUSION After considering the broadest objections against the BBL such as how it allegedly imbues the proposed Bangsamoro Entity with all the requisites of a state and taking a broad view that would prohibit a feature of the BBL only if there is an explicit constitutional provision or cardinal 22 Rep. Act No. 3491 § 7 (1997). 23 C ONST . art. X, § 18.
[2015 A L IBERAL I NTERPRETATION OF THE BBL 29 postulate of constitutional or international law violated, it is fairly straightforward to dismiss such broad objections and more specific section-level objections in favor of allowing a political experiment when it is not explicitly prohibited. From the above table, any adjustments that might be made to address such explicit prohibitions are minor and straightforward, such as clarifying the use of international law terms such as “self-governance” to specifically refer to the context of internal self- determination, or clarifying that the plebiscite to ratify amendments to the BBL is a policy recommendation only. It must be stressed that the BBL continues to represent the best hope for lasting peace in Mindanao and is a matter of historical imperative to give the Moro people of the Philippines their due. As one of the co- authors of this paper stated in Malacañang Palace last February 3, 2015 on behalf of The Outstanding Young Men awardees of 2014, the BBL’s passage and achieving lasting peace in Mindanao would dwarf the achievements of every person who received that great honor. The BBL’s passage must be made with statesmanship, political conviction and a sense of social justice, beyond mere intellectual agreement from the law professors. And as the other co-author summed up: The question that crops up foremost in the mind of Christian Filipinos is: But would not recognition of a Moro nation ultimately lead to think of itself as a potential state? Will this not lead to the Balkanization of the country, with its frightening connotations? The answer to this question is, of course, “Yes,” unless we strengthen our democratic institutions to guarantee equality and justice to the Muslims. When a state grows and develops inclusively, when it changes its discriminatory laws against ethnic minorities, when our political leaders realize that it is advantageous to appeal across religious and ethnic lines, and when it allows free expression of cultural identity within the institutions of the country, and when it devolves some degree of power and autonomy to the ethnic minorities, such acts will defuse sentiments of secession and aspirations of independence. 24 - o0o - 24 Pacifico Agabin, unpublished manuscript submitted for publication by the UP College of Law.
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