An Appeal to the Legislators from the Peace Advocates of Northern Mindanao…
We, the undersigned advocates of peace, state our unequivocal support for the enactment of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as outlined under the provisions of House Bill 4994 and Senate Bill 2408 otherwise known as “An act providing for the basic law for the Bangsamoro and abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, repealing for the purpose Republic Act No. 9054, entitled ‘An act to strengthen and Expand the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’, and Republic Act No. 6734,entitled ‘An act providing for an organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’, and for other purposes.”
Our support for the BBL is rooted in our firm belief that the underlying principles of its provisions is consistent with the spirit of the 1987 Constitution, which clearly recognizes the need to enact laws that would ensure peace based on social justice and development rooted on the right of every people to human dignity and self determination.
We would like to underscore the fact that the provisions defining the nature, powers and characteristics of the new Bangsamoro Government is consistent with the principles of democratic governance in its purest form. These include the principle of proportional representation, free and fair elections and majority rule (Article VII The Bangsamoro Government); the principle of guarding against all-powerful central governments by decentralizing government to regional and local levels, understanding that all levels of government must be as accessible and responsive to the people as possible (Article VI Intergovernmental Relations); the principle of state responsiblity vis-a-vis the protection, promotion, and fulfillment of rights and recognition of fundamental freedoms (Article IX Basic Rights); and the principle of promoting and protecting economic freedom (Article XII Fiscal Economy, and provisions pertaining to resources).
While we recognize that the BBL is not a static political document, since its provisions is still something that has to be subjected to discussion, deliberation and debate; we see the BBL and the whole process leading to its enactment as the only viable, logical, and constitutional answer that would end not only the armed conflict but more importantly the decades of underdevelopment, poverty, and corruption that has mired efforts to reform the provinces of Muslim Mindanao.
As you deliberate on the provisions of the BBL we ask you to bear in mind how your decisions can affect the peace process and impact the lives of the millions of people in the conflict affected areas in Mindanao who are pinning their hopes on the implementation of the peace agreement. We ask you to think about the thousands of IDPs who are still currently suffering in evacuation centers and the more than 150,000 people killed in the last 4 decades.
We appeal to you to think about the role that you would play in shaping the future of Mindanao and of our country, and the legacy you would like to be remembered by. As Nelson Mandela once said “We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in any society, a life free from violence and fear.” This is what we ask you to strive for. This is what we expect from our honourable political leaders.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, DD