It is not only the issue of constitutionality that we have to face in our search for the solution to the Bangsamoro problem, the Moro struggle for self-determination that has been with us since 1972. We must also confront the emotions that come with the basic issues of identity, ancestral domain, self-governance, control of natural resources, and the right to determine one’s final political status. Maybe we should even regard these emotions as one of the basic issues. The truth of the matter is that there seems to be a predominance of negative thoughts and feelings among Pinoy settlers, Bangsamoro, and Lumad alike. The emotions are not exactly kind, and they have also reached the level of official policies.
How, for instance can we explain, the strong resistance from among Christian settlers and Lumads to the use of the phrase “Muslim Mindanao” in the Constitution when it was under deliberation in the Regional Consultative Commission (RCC) and in Congress? Yes, they, the very people who expressed opposition to this phrase were likely among those who took part in the overwhelming ratification of the 1987 Constitution and, consequently, of that phrase, too. On the opposite end, how do we understand the overwhelmingly favorable response to it from among Muslims, such as was duly documented in the public consultations conducted by the RCC? The predominantly Christian provinces of eight out of thirteen provinces listed in the Tripoli Agreement vehemently expressed their desire not to be included in the territory of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The reasons given revealed negative thoughts and feelings about Muslim rather than the objective merits of both the draft organic act produced by the RCC and the actual Organic Act enacted by Congress.