Privilege Speech of Deputy Speaker Pangalian M. Balindong delivered on January 27, 2015.
Mr. Speaker, esteemed colleagues in the House of Representatives, I stand before you today, perhaps for the last time in this 16th congress. I speak with a grieving heart for failing to achieve what could have been the crowning glory of my public service to my country and to all Filipino-Muslims of the Philippines.
Today, with a heavy heart and a disturbing sense of foreboding, i close the book of hope for the passage of the Bangsamoro basic law. 51 public hearings, 200 hours of committee level debates and 8 months of consultations are all put to waste -- thrown into the abyss of uncertainty and darkness. This is the lowest and saddest day of my legislative work.
Mr. Speaker, during our deliberations on the BBL, hope surged in the heart of every Muslim. It was a beautiful moment of love, reconciliation and understanding. All the pains and sorrows, memories of lost loved ones and endless days of strife and war -- all would be erased to give space for a new beginning.
The Bangsamoro basic law offers the Muslim minority in this country the recognition of our distinct identity, protection of what remains of the Bangsamoro homeland, and the opportunity to exercise self-determination through a parliamentary form of government that will be run in accordance with the Moro culture, faith and way of life. BBL will guarantee that as a minority, we stand in parity of esteem with our Filipino brothers and sisters.
But with one tragic and unexpected event not of our own making – the Mamasapano misencounter has labeled us again as terrorists, extremists, enemies, traitors and murderers. I have personally witnessed and heard the bashing and lashing against the Moros not only over the media but right in this hall of congress.
Because of the Mamasapano, many of those who supported the BBL wittingly or unwittingly punished the Moro people by denying us of the required votes and even the quorum to deliberate on the BBL.
As I close the book of hope for the passage of the BBL, I want you to recall the faces of the people that you met during the public hearings all over the country and especially in the Bangsamoro homeland. Remember their expectant smiles, their hopeful faces and their warm gestures of goodwill.
Remember the assurances and promises that we gave to our bosses, the Filipino people. Remember our commitment that we will pass the BBL, implement the peace agreement, reestablish peace in the war-torn communities and secure for them through the BBL a brighter future.
Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, history repeats itself. What shall our nation’s history repeat? The history of peace or the history of war?
As a Moro elder who has lived through decades of war and conflict, I have never been afraid of the future of my people than I am today. What we have not done is a perfect recipe for radicalization. It is a disaster that extremists can easily exploit. I have not been remissed in presenting to you this scenario but some of us here simply dismissed it as a form of threat.
Today, Mr. Speaker, we take away the hopes of millions of people in the Bangsamoro. By the sheer tyranny of the majority, we have foreclosed all possible peaceful, legal and constitutional avenues for peace. No matter how we debate on the justness of the Bangsamoro cause, no matter how we stand to legal reasoning, no matter how we shout for our constitutionally guaranteed right to genuine political autonomy, the reality is that there are only ten (10) Moro legislators against the more than 280 members of this house. We are only ten (10) lone voices in the wilderness of bias, prejudice and hatred.
What shall I tell my people when I go back to my homeland? How can I explain to them why we failed to pass the BBL? How can I convince my people to remain steadfast to peace without the BBL? How can the thousands of combatants return to normal life when we did not deliver the basic law that would legalize the establishment of the Bangsamoro?
Now, all these moments of peace and accord are to be washed away, in one final denial of our Muslim birthright. I see it in the process unfolding before us. I see it in the avoidance of your gestures. I feel it every time you turn away like you cannot see this Moro straight in the eye. I feel it in the sheer lack of quorum which is obviously a deliberate tactic to filibuster and lose much needed time to pass the BBL.
Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, I hate to admit that this house of representatives has collectively failed the Bangsamoro people. You and I failed to fulfill and honor our commitment. I feel sad that we have effectively killed the process that took more than 17 years of hard and painstaking negotiations to finish. We did not only fail the Bangsamoro, but also the expectations of the international community and the supposedly legacy of our president.
More painful on my part is that we also failed the next generation who will obviously inherit this vicious cycle of war and conflict.
Thomas Jefferson, said, and I quote, "when injustice becomes law, then resistance becomes duty." these words apply to our situation today. For the Moro people, who have resisted subjugation for the past four hundred years, I am afraid the fight will continue, until there is justice. And more painful on my part is the knowledge that we have failed the next generation who will obviously inherit this vicious cycle of war and conflict. The BBL should have been our vehicle to peace.
I am now in the twilight years of my life. The BBL is not anymore for me. It is a duty that we ought to fulfill for the young and the next generation to come. It is an intergenerational responsibility that summons an act of statesmanship. I have done my part. We may not have succeeded in passing the BBL but we have never lost the discourse. As a minority in this country, we may have lost in terms of numbers but we have never lost in the discourse as it springs from the justness and legitimacy of our cause. I leave the future in Allah’s wisdom, mercy and compassion.