ESQ: You were part of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that drafted the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). What is your take on BOL?
SG: The BOL is an instrument of national legislation to address the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people. It is a social reconciliation instrument in social justice as provided for by the Philippine Constitution and our legal principle that social justice is the equalization of forces in society. This law is an equalization measure, because people who have been denied their identity, history, and political self-determination are given back those things. The Philippine Constitution does recognize that autonomy is fundamental.
Federalism? I don’t think there’s a need for charter change at this time when we are so polarized. We are so divided among political colors. We have people on the fringes who don’t have WiFi, or TV, or radio. I don’t think it’s healthy for charter change to be decided by the few provinces that have full access to media. This will not be democratic.
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ESQ: What are your thoughts on peace and security in Mindanao, as well as your stand on Marawi’s rehabilitation?
SG: We’ve seen in other countries that economic stability is the key to a developed community. Peace and security is really the key towards economic success.
It is a dramatic example that our Filipino economy, our Filipino identity, is far from being tight. It is so fragmented. Human security is not just about political security. It is also about environmental security and food security. Peace and security in Mindanao is very important. These forms of human security are interconnected with each other. When you don’t have economic security, you’re not going to have political security. All of these aspects of human security are of equal importance. Peace and security are important. The reason we don’t have tourists in Mindanao and have no long-term direction for economic development is because we still have a rebellion. I’m hoping that with the BOL in place, we can move progressively closer to peace, stability and security.
"We’ve seen in other countries that economic stability is the key to a developed community. Peace and security is really the key towards economic success."
ESQ: As an opposition candidate, what do you think of this administration, of martial law in Mindanao?
SG: This administration has to do more to ensure the dignity of human beings across the board, economically and politically. As an opposition candidate, I am with the sector that reminds those who represent this state—the administration—that there must be oversight. There must be balance. There is the other side of the debate, especially for those who cannot access the necessary administration programming. We have to observe democratic principles. This is the Philippines, the oldest democracy in Asia. Let’s not be too sensitive about criticism. If we all agreed 100 percent of the time, then we wouldn’t be Filipinos at all. I would like to see the administration listen, instead of react, to the criticism as well as what it wants to hear.
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This is a different martial law from that of the 1970s. We acknowledge that. The President has the prerogative, the executive has its prerogative, to declare martial law. However, we in Marawi feel the most aggressive impact of this martial law. We fear that there will be more ‘pacification measures’ used to address terrorism to the detriment of our people, especially the Bangsamoro.
Yes, national security is determined by the Cabinet clusters on peace and security in Malacañang, but there is also a cluster on women. If the men in uniform make a decision, the input and decisions of women who are not in uniform should also be considered. Martial law was not co-decided. It was decided by a few.