By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
Most Filipinos are “neutral” towards the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, a special survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.
In the nationwide survey conducted from June 27 to 30 with 1,200 respondents, 31 percent agreed, and 28 percent disagreed that Congress should pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The largest single group of 40 percent were those who were undecided on the issue.
This translates to a net agreement score of +3 (percent agreed minus percent disagreed), classified by SWS as “neutral.”
The SWS terminology for net agreement are as follows: +50 and above, extremely strong; +30 to +49, very strong; +10 to +29, moderately strong; +9 to -9, neutral; -10 to -29, moderately weak; -30 to -49, very weak; and -50 and below, extremely weak.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign it into law, which is now titled “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” on Monday in time for his third State of the Nation Address.
SWS pointed out that opinion on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law has not always been neutral.
In the past years, reaching back to 2012 when the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed in October 2012, Filipinos tended to have a moderately positive attitude towards that agreement, with “moderate” net agreement scores ranging from +16 to +26.
At that point there was not yet a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, but the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (which followed the Framework Agreement in March 2014) agreement did specify that a Bangsamoro Basic Law be submitted to Congress, and it was submitted in September 2014.
After that time, then, SWS asked several times whether the BBL should be approved by Congress.
Between the submission and the first survey asking that question, the Mamasapano clash occurred when 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force were killed.
The resulting uproar turned sentiment around, and for the rest of 2015 Filipino public opinion was moderately negative, ranging from neutral -8 to poor -24.
The proposed BBL died in Congress before the end of the administration of former President Benigno S. Aquino III and SWS did not include the question in surveys in 2016, and 2017.
Beginning in 2018, as a new draft Bangsamoro Basic Law was working its way through Congress, SWS surveys show a “neutral” stance nationwide, ranging from net +2 to +3.
While this is not as encouraging for advocates as was the moderately positive results through 2014, at least public opposition displayed in 2015 had died down, SWS explained.
Looking into which area of the Philippines opinion might be stronger, there is a moderate net agreement of +18 in Metro Manila, whereas in Visayas there is a poor net -16 reaction to the law.
The rest of Luzon is a neutral +9, as is Mindanao at neutral -2.
“While the Mindanao rating may seem surprising, it must be remembered that only about 24 percent of the population of Mindanao are Muslims, who do indeed agree that the bill should be passed and their opinion forms only part of the sample from the whole Mindanao area,” it pointed out.
Muslims are very much in favor of having the BBL passed by Congress, at an extremely strong +55. Catholics (-2) and other Christians (-2), who form the bulk (90 percent) of the sample are neutral.
Iglesia ni Cristo is moderately favorable to the bill, at a moderate +27.
In contrast to the neutral position Filipinos take on whether Congress should pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, SWS found that Filipinos tend to moderately agree that passing the law will bring peace in Mindanao, at a moderate net agreement of +13.
Metro Manila is still moderate (+29) in its agreement, but the rest of Luzon is also moderate (+19) in agreement that the BBL will bring peace in Mindanao whereas it was neutral about whether Congress should pass the BBL.
In Visayas, where there is a moderately negative attitude towards passing the BBL, the respondents become neutral (-4) on the question of whether passage of the BBL would bring peace to Mindanao.
Mindanao as a whole remains neutral on both questions, but slightly more positive on the prospects of the BBL bringing peace in Mindanao (+7) than it was on the question of whether Congress should pass the BBL (-2).