House: Don’t blame us if war breaks out
If war breaks out in Mindanao due to the failure of the federalism bid, don’t blame the House of Representatives.
The House leadership on Sunday asserted that it had already done its part in response to the supposed threat of war issued by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair, Nur Misuari, if the push to shift to a federal form of government failed to materialize.
“We have done our part, under the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to deliver the draft new charter to the Senate last year,” Deputy Majority Leader Rodante Marcoleta said in a statement.
Senate OK needed
“The House of Representatives fully supports President Duterte’s crusade to set out federalism in the country through constitutional processes,” said Marcoleta of Sagip party-list group.
In December, the House approved Resolution of Both Houses No. 15 proposing a draft Constitution that would turn the country’s unitary government into a federal system and retain the presidential and bicameral legislature setup.
Arroyo herself pushed for the bill, which was approved by the chamber on third reading by a vote of 224-22 with three abstentions.
To be enacted, the measure needs the concurrence of the Senate, whose leadership has already ruled out any chance of passing the federalism bill within the current Congress due to lack of time and other priorities.
War is not child’s play
In addition, since the measure involves revising the 1987 Constitution, the two chambers need to convene a constituent assembly, one of three ways the Charter may be changed, and then introduce and approve amendments to the Constitution by an absolute three-fourths vote.
Once approved, the amended Charter shall be subject to a national referendum.
On Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said Misuari had threatened war if the Philippine government failed to adopt federalism.
In statements issued over the weekend, former MNLF chair Muslimin Sema warned that war is not child’s play, while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana downplayed Misuari’s threat as a mere “bluff” to court attention.
In an interview aired over radio station dzBB, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Noel Detoyato asked who exactly Misuari is threatening to go to war with.
“He will go to war with whom? Who is his enemy? Let’s ask him first who his enemy is,” Detoyato said in Filipino.
‘Path of lasting peace’
He cited the September 2013 Zamboanga City siege of a Misuari-led faction of the MNLF, where the AFP defended local residents who were the targets.
Sema said the MNLF central committee and all members of the group have committed to “pursue the path of lasting peace.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.