Defense chief: Federalism still ‘confusing’ to Pinoys
Another Cabinet official has expressed doubts about the country’s readiness for a federal shift in government.
“It’s confusing,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Thursday.
Lorenzana’s statement followed the apprehensions expressed earlier by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and National Economic and Development Authority chief Ernesto Pernia, who described the federalism shift as a “fiscal nightmare” during a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.
“We still need a little more education and more information,” the defense chief said.
Lorenzana, however, clarified that the military had no official position on federalism.
“We haven’t conducted a survey of our troops, but the military will support whatever Congress passes, as long as it has been deliberated on,” he said.
As for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), Lorenzana said that there could be attempts to dismantle it among those who oppose the law that would lead to the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“Let us admit it: Not all Muslims are sold on the BOL. There are still misgivings especially since it’s the [Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or the MILF] at the lead, which is from Maguindanao … So it seems [the Muslim tribe from] Maguindanao will have the upper hand [over other Muslim groups],” the defense official said.
“There are still the Tausug, those from Samal, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Marawi and the Maranao [to consider],” he added.
How positions are going to be apportioned “depends on the MILF leadership. In my opinion, it will be messy,” Lorenzana said.
A more insidious opposition could come from rebel groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Central Mindanao, he said.
“They’re not part of the BOL: in fact, they are mad at the MILF for joining the government in stamping them out … so there are spoilers, and bombing could be part of this spoiler,” Lorenzana warned.
The defense official also cited opposition from sitting politicians, among them Cotabato Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, who appears to be “rallying the people not to join the BOL,” Lorenzana said.
Cotabato will be holding a plebiscite to determine if the city will join the BARMM.
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