By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The government should not be pressured into pursuing the proposed shift to federalism due to the threats of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.
Sotto urged the government not to give weight and heed Misuari’s demands for a federal shift as he maintained that such a proposal should be reviewed carefully.
“Does he even know what kind of federalism he wants? Why are we going to jump into something because a citizen of the country says he wants this or that? Hindi ganoon kadali ‘yon, inagaaralan ‘yon (It’s not that easy, that should be studied),” the Sotto said in a press forum.
The Senate chief downplayed the MNLF founding chair’s threats of waging a war, as bared by President Duterte on Tuesday, should the government fail to give it to him.
Misuari, he believed, could be charged for threatening the government.
“No, definitely not,” Sotto told reporters when asked if the government should be pressured by Misuari’s threats.
“I don’t think we should put a lot of weight to it,” he said.
He said Congress, anyway, has passed the law allowing the change of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. He reiterated that it would be an “experiment” whether or not federalism would benefit the country.
Duterte has ordered the creation of a panel that will meet with Misuari’s group regarding the latter’s demand. Sotto urged the MNLF leader to continue talking to the government.
The proposed transition to a federal government has been languishing in the Senate.
Sotto said they have refused to rush the matter, especially that the two houses of Congress have yet to settle disputes on the mode of revising the Constitution.
He also lamented the “vague” intentions for the proposal, citing proposed provision removing the term limits of elective officials.
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, meanwhile, expressed doubts over Misuari’s threats.
“Hindi ako naniniwala na sinabi ni Misuari yun. Pakana lang ni Duterte yun. As always, magsisinungaling siya para lang maitulak yung gusto niya (he would lie to pursue what he wants),” the staunch Duterte critic said.