The archbishop of Cagayan de Oro warned of a rise in Moro extremism in Mindanao, similar to the ISIS, if Congress fails to pass a meaningful Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D., said this during the recent Religious Leaders-Legislators Meeting. The archbishop convened this meeting through Tulay Kalinaw Mindanaw (Tulay KaMI or Peace Bridge in Mindanao) to discuss the BBL and strategize a continuing push for the passage of the BBL that is faithful to the CAB.
This, as a member of the Citizens Peace Council and former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel called on the two Mindanao senators to explain their endorsement of the Senate version of the BBL. This version is deemed less than was granted to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and is patently inconsistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Ledesma said that failure to pass a meaningful BBL is dangerous as this may trigger the rise of Moro extremism in Mindanao. This is especially since there is a growing number of young Moros entertaining political thoughts with shades of extremism.
“A failed BBL will favor the growth of extremism/fundamentalism/terrorism in Mindanao. It will not help solve the conflict,” he said.
The prelate urged legislators in both Houses of Congress to restore the original provisions of the BBL consistent with the CAB which were amended or deleted in the current versions now being deliberated in both the House of Representatives and Senate.
A meaningful BBL is one that addresses the longing for genuine self-governance of the Bangsamoro and embodies the political agreements of the MILF and government which are compiled in the CAB, he explained.
Meanwhile, Professor Moner Bajunaid urged Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, who hails from Valencia, Bukidnon, and Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who hails from Cagayan de Oro, to explain why they signed Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s committee report that formed the present version of the BBL the Senate is now deliberating.
Marcos’ version of the BBL or Senate Bill 2894 amended 80 percent of the original BBL drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and reviewed by the President’s legal team.
“If Senator TG Guingona and Senator Koko Pimentel truly feel the pulse of the peoples of Mindanao, they should have not signed the Marcos committee report. Guingona and Pimentel should explain to the peoples of Mindanao why they signed Marcos’ committee report,” Bajunaid said.
Sen. Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the dictator who was ousted through a bloodless revolution in 1986, submitted on August 10 his committee’s report that formed the Senate’s version of the BBL. Guingona, son and namesake of former Vice President Teofisto “Tito” Guingona Jr., and Pimentel, son and namesake of former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., both endorsed Marcos’ version of the BBL.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had earlier said that Marcos’ BBL is “50 percent bad.”
“The BBL is a legal and political document that addresses a political issue of national concern,” said Bajunaid.
He said that Guingona’s and Pimentel’s signatures on Marcos’ version of the BBL is disheartening and disappointing.
“One can never understand the BBL if one does not understand the peace process and/or the history of Mindanao,” he said.
“Guingona [and Pimentel] should push the Mindanao agenda for peace, [themselves being Mindanawons. Their] signature[s] of Marcos’ committee report show that [they do] not understand the so-called Mindanao conflict,” stressed lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, chair-emeritus of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC).
Lead by Ledesma, the participants to the Meeting, held at the Archbishop Patrick Cronin Hall adjacent to the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, called on legislators in both Houses of Congress to restore the original provisions of the BBL that are consistent with the CAB.
“The present BBL [in both the House of Representatives and Senate] has so many cavities that need to be filled up to make it a true social justice legislation. The peoples of Mindanao want a meaningful BBL,” he said.
Ledesma, who is also a member of the Citizens Peace Council, said that “a support for a meaningful BBL is a support for the Mindanao peace process.”
The prelate is the convenor of Tulay KaMi, a multi-sectoral peace conversation among civil society organizations (CSOs) and agencies working and advocating towards peacebuilding and conflict resolution in Northern Mindanao. (Bong D. Fabe)