As peace advocates and Mindanawons, we, the Balay Mindanaw Group of NGOs, firmly support the call for the immediate passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is consistent with all peace agreements signed by both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Balay Mindanaw appreciates the efforts of all peace negotiators, facilitators, civil society organizations and communities who for several decades toiled hard to reach crucial agreements despite the numerous challenges along the way.
We highlight the contributions and sacrifices of the Bangsamoro people in putting life in these agreements, which is essential in making the peace mechanisms and infrastructures functional. Further, we express our faith in the capacity of the Bangsamoro people to take action on their aspirations and build a better future for the next generations.
Balay Mindanaw agrees with President Rodrigo Duterte when he said that in order for the armed conflict to be completely addressed, the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro people must be corrected. It must be done with no preconditions and there is no other better time to do it but now.
The same message should also be carried as the core rationale and guide for Congress, both the House of Representatives and Senate, in performing the legislation process for BBL.
Balay Mindanaw is optimistic that the passage of BBL and the full implementation of the signed agreements would facilitate the creation of better government systems and stable judicial processes. It would also address issues on inequity and insufficient social services.
If actualized, these would help the government, Moro fronts and Bangsamoro leaders gain the complete trust and support of the people. It will be a homeland and system owned by the people. It will be a realization of a dream that will be difficult for war hawks and violent extremists to disparage and destroy.
However, what are pivotal as of the moment are the actual legislation process and the content of the actual law. Will it genuinely represent and satisfy the needs and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people? Will it be inclusive enough that no stakeholders will be left out including the women, youth and Lumads?
While Congress is technically allowed to make amendments in the draft submitted by the BangsamoroTransition Commission (BTC), Balay Mindanaw believes that the BBL should be consistent with all signed agreements including the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Hence, we pray that our legislators reflect deeply on the consequences of their decisions in Congress. We pray that electoral politics, greed and profiteering would not anymore derail the journey to solve the Bangsamoro problem.
The people have already delivered their message repeatedly and consistently- enough with war, peace is the only way.
25 January 2018