CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY— In a historic joint meeting this morning, the Regional Peace and Order Council of Northern Mindanao (RPOC-X) and the Regional Development Council (RDC-X) unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law and urging Congress to pass a BBL that is true to the spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
“The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law currently pending legislative action in Congress seeks to implement the letter and spirit of the CAB, and effectively responds to the Moro people’s longing for self-governance hence address the root cause of the Moro rebellion. Now therefore, premises duly considered, be it resolved as it is hereby resolved that the Regional Peace and Order Council of Region 10 and the Regional Development Council of Region 10 express its collective support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), thereby urging the 16th Congress to pass the measure within the soonest time,” the joint resolution read.
“Given the importance of the BBL to our lives as inhabitants of Northern Mindanao, the RPOC and RDC members ask our legislators to provide it a reasoned legislative scrutiny and pass judgment on it based on social justice,” Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno, chairman of the RPOC-X, stressed, reading from the resolution that was introduced by Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D.
This move has put Northern Mindanao in history as the first government-mandated peace and development council to unanimously support the passage of the BBL.
The BBL, now called the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, was approved by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL on Wednesday. The approved version is now with the House’s Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on Appropriations. It will deliberated on in the House plenary on Wednesday, said Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
During this morning’s joint meeting, members of the RDC-X and the RPOC-X acknowledged that “it is our duty as leaders to bequeath a peaceful and progressive society to the next generation hence we must contribute in any way we can to seeing a closure to the Moro rebellion within our lifetime.”
In unanimously approving the resolution, members of the RPOC-X and RDC-X all agreed that the “early gains of the peace process by way of the radical reduction, if not complete absence, of skirmishes between government and MILF forces, has immensely benefited Northern Mindanao through increased business confidence, making it among the moist preferred investment destinations in the country.”
The political settlement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as concretized in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed on March 27, 2014, brings Mindanao in the cusp of historic change, Ledesma said.
Moreno said that it is important that the BBL is implemented before President Aquino exits from power so as not to suffer the same “fate” as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Moreno, who was congressman of the first congressional district of Misamis Oriental from 1998 to 2004 said that the ARMM was destined to fail.
“It was destined to fail. Why? Because it was passed under the president who succeeded the president under whose term the peace agreement was signed,” he said, referring to President Corazon Aquino and President Fidel Ramos.
The ARMM was first created on August 1, 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734 (otherwise known as the Organic Act) in pursuance with a constitutional mandate to provide for an autonomous area in Muslim Mindanao. A plebiscite was held in the provinces of Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur; and in the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Koronadal, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga to determine if their residents wished to be part of the ARMM. Of these areas, only four provinces — Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi — voted in favor of inclusion in the new autonomous region.
The ARMM was officially inaugurated on November 6, 1990 in Cotabato City, which was designated as its provisional capital. In 2001 a new law, Republic A 9054, was passed for the expansion of the ARMM. In a plebiscite, Marawi City in Lanao del Sur and the province of Basilan (excluding Isabela City) opted to be integrated into the region.
RA 9054 lapsed into law, without the signature of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
The Lanao del Norte-based 2nd Mechanized Brigade of the 1st “Tabak” Division of the Philippine Army said in its presentation during the joint meeting that “the peace process is holding” despite a very “volatile situation.”
“A delay in the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and also because of the Mamasapano incident,” make the situation in Mindanao very volatile, it said.
The 2nd Mechanized Brigade presentation also stressed that ongoing disinformation and misinformation campaigns against the BBL that threaten to agitate the already fragile peace process.
In introducing the resolution, Ledesma reminded everyone that “it has been and is the policy of government to resolve the root causes of social conflicts in order to build a strong foundation for sustained progress and development.” He said this is the guiding principle which has lead various administrations to pursue the peace negotiations with the MILF.
The prelate also enumerated the cost of war and violent conflicts in Mindanao since the 1970s in terms of lives, property and economics. (Bong D. Fabe)