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All Wars Are Wars Against Civilians

Posted on 28 June 2017 by cbcs_mike

Neither the AFP nor the “Terrorist” Groups is winning the war

By Abu Mumar

(The author is a Bangsamoro independent thinker who spends his profession years in non-violent peace building. He heads the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), a Cotabato City-based Peace and Human Rights-based network of Moro NGOs and POs and an avid promoter of transitional Justice and Reconciliation)

The on-going violent battles in Marawi City will soon be over. One group may win the battle but no group is going to win the war. Surely, we are all the losers. The only benefits we can gain from these wars are lessons to be learned. Why they happened, how will they not happen again.


In this violence in Marawi City as they are in other parts of the Bangsamoro, many civilians lost their lives. Some are being held hostages. Others are trapped inside the conflict zones and still others are made human shield. Thousands were displaced living under the mercy of relief assistance. Millions worth of properties destroyed. Some children are sick, many died. Source of livelihood are stopped. The education of the children is disrupted. Relationship among people destroyed. Fresh wounds of prejudices and hatred developed.

Millions of pesos are spent everyday for this war rather than for development. And there is no guarantee that other similar or even worst battles can not occur sooner or later elsewhere. It was in Maguindanao, then to Basilan, then in Zamboanga City and now in Marawi City. The high-level armed skirmishes in Sulu, Basilan and Mahuindanao may have ended but sustained violence continues to no end. The fighting is not solving the roots of the real problems.

What is next after fighting? Relief and rehabilitation work? Mending destroyed relationships? And the vicious cycle continues. What justice is due to the displaced civilians? Those who died? Those whose properties were destroyed? Are they simply the “collateral damage”? Are there guarantees that the violence will not recur after the battles end? Are we making new history or continuing the history of violence from decades past?

Let us face it. War can only fulfill certain functions. Its usefulness is very limited. Violence does not recognize boundaries and targets. The acts of terror perpetrated by the enemies of the state and the corresponding anti-terror acts by the state are all producing casualties to the civilians. In Mindanao, as it is in the Bangsamoro, the violence has been there for long. We can condemn them (wars) but is it enough to curse them? Something comprehensive must be done to end the wars. What are the roots of conflict in Mindanao? What are the reasons why there are terror groups? What are the structural, emotional, psychological socio-economic bases of the conflict and terrorism?

Remember the 5 major causes of violence and the 6 paths to Peace during the administration of former president Ramos? Three presidents since then had ruled the Philippines after the 6 paths to peace had been formulated. Whatever happened to them? Was it the same as the all-out-war of Estrada? The all-out-peace of Arroyo and Aquino? Is this the same as the 6-point peace and development agenda of the present administration? Or is it just the syndrome of “pass it on” to the next administration?

Isn’t our conflict local? Why is it dragging too long? Why has it gained international recognition? Whatever happened to the Tripoli Agreement of 1976? The Jeddah Accord? The Final Peace Agreement of 1996? The FAB of 2012 and the CAB of 2014? When will we ever learn the art of implementing agreements? Are there frustration, disheartenment and hopelessness in the peace processes that has been dragging for long time that other groups are looking for other alternative means? Why have other wars ended and ours is still going on?

How many more lives, properties and millions worth of war materials do we need to dispense of before we say enough is enough? When will war end, to end the sufferings of the civilians?

The peace processes

Is there anything the on-going Bangsamoro peace processes can contribute in designing and implementing a more comprehensive solution to a complex socio-economic and security problems in the Bangsamoro? Will a meaningful autonomy, acceptable to Bangsamoro liberation fronts, be a deterrent to violence? Will it usher in cooperation between the national government and the liberation fronts to promote development and stamp out violence?

Aren’t the local “terrorist groups” homegrown ones? Were they not descendants of old comrades in the MNLF and the MILF? What are sending them to support international-based terror groups? Can development in the Bangsamoro attract them to return to the fold of peace process?

We are told that the use of arms or violence can not kill an ideology. But we can offer better ideas and alternatives to offset them. The grant of self-determination concretely expressed in meaningful autonomy will offset the demand for a separate state. This is suggested by a Catholic bishop and now cardinal as “a perfect balance between addressing a legitimate demand of social justice for the Bangsamoro and a respect to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippine state. The success of the peace process is undoubtedly a big contribution in paving the way for national unity and reconciliation. This state of affairs will hasten cooperation in pushing for scaling up development in the war-torn Bangsamoro areas while at the same time working together towards preventing radicalization that can lead to terrorism.

We cannot afford to have another failure in the peace process.

If part of the reasons in the growth of local terrorist groups is the prolonged unresolved conflict and the frustration over the failure of the past agreements, another failure can be disastrous. The monolithic MNLF was factionalized due to dissatisfaction and frustrations. Except for the MILF who towed separately the pathway of the peace process, all the subsequent split groups followed a more “extremist” line. Failure in the MILF present peace process may produce high level of frustration, bitterness and disheartenment among its ranks. Their vulnerability to join the global ideology of the caliphate may not be remote. Should this be the case, peace negotiations can be relegated to the thing of the past.

We must end the violent wars through the peace process. We can not afford to see more civilians suffering from a prolonged war where there are no victories but only losers. In these wars the civilians are the sure losers and the rest of us.

Condemning terrorism is one thing. Offering better alternative is another thing. Using the hard approach of military counter-terrorism is necessary but can only fulfill limited functions. It is not sustainable. When the act of counter-terrorism goes beyond the limit and the use of force becomes inappropriate and in-proportionate, they can become harmful and can produce more potential terrorists. “The effectiveness and legitimacy of the state’s actions against terrorism will be undermined if the state, through any of its agencies, uses its power in violation of international human rights standards”.

We can kill one terrorist today, two terrorists will be born tomorrow. As has been the case of the Abu Sayyaf who has been pulverized (pulbos) many times in the past. A comprehensive approach based on the platform of addressing structural, psychological, emotional and socioeconomic marginalization is more strategic and sustainable.The state has to adopt a comprehensive approach to countering terrorism, with a particular focus on preventing and countering “violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism”, while upholding human rights and the rule of law.

We have to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro as well as other minority groups. There is the imperative need to correct historical injustices and address marginalization, political exclusivity and discrimination. To avoid emotional grievances, profiling of criminals or “terrorists” built on “stereotypical assumptions based on religion, race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, etc. are not only discriminatory but also ineffective”Using the above approaches, we can solve our domestic problems. After all, all conflicts are local. Their solutions are also local.

Our failures can only attract many to join others.

CBCS Secretariat

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Bangsamoro – The Stony Path to Peace

Posted on 19 May 2017 by cbcs_mike

Mediating in conflicts between cultural, religious and ethnic groups in the Bangsamoro region, which sometimes persist across generations, is one of the key tasks of civil society organisations. Source: Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Inc.

Mediating in conflicts between cultural, religious and ethnic groups in the Bangsamoro region, which sometimes persist across generations, is one of the key tasks of civil society organisations. Source: Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Inc.

[The Authors: Elmar Noé has been a desk officer in the Asia Department of MISEREOR – the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation – since 2002. Since 2008 he has been responsible for MISEREOR’s cooperation with partner organisations in the Philippines.
Elisabeth Strohscheidt has been a MISEREOR desk officer for peace research and conflict transformation since 2012. Prior to that she spent almost 10 years as a desk officer for human rights in what was then MISEREOR’s department for development policy issues.]

In late 2015, the highly promising peace process in the Muslim-dominated regions of Mindanao suffered a severe setback. The Congress of the Philippines delayed its vote on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) for so long that it was no longer possible to reach a decision during President Aquino’s time in office. The Muslim population in Mindanao in particular were profoundly disappointed by the failure to pass the BBL. The fact that this disappointment did not result in violence was thanks largely to the vigorous efforts of civil society actors. Throughout the years of negotiation they kept working to make the process transparent. This made a significant contribution towards the acceptance of the process among the population.

Mediating in conflicts between cultural, religious and ethnic groups in the Bangsamoro region, which sometimes persist across generations, is one of the key tasks of civil society organisations. Source: Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Inc.

Mediating in conflicts between cultural, religious and ethnic groups in the Bangsamoro region, which sometimes persist across generations, is one of the key tasks of civil society organisations. Source: Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Inc.

Another reason why violence did not ensue is that large sections of the parties to the conflict – both Muslim groups and elements within the army – have grown tired of war. Furthermore, during the years of negotiation a solid foundation of trust has arisen between fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the army. As a result, ceasefires that were agreed did hold even in critical situations, and the two sides were able to establish working channels of communication. The fact that following the failure of the BBL in Congress the two sides’ negotiating delegations very quickly resumed the dialogue was an important step in at least consolidating the results of the negotiations achieved until that point.

The election of Rodrigo Duterte as President of the Philippines raised hopes in many quarters that he could bring fresh and positive momentum to the peace process. Eight months after Duterte took up office, however, the obstacles along the stony path to peace are now becoming evident.

On 7 November President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 8, which extended the mandate of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). With new and more members, the BTC is now mandated to revise the BBL by July 2017, in time for Duterte’s next State of the Nation Address. The revision will not only take account of the interests of hitherto neglected groups; it will also respond to criticisms and queries raised by various Representatives and Senators concerning the existing draft of the BBL.

Obstacles and stumbling blocks in the process

It took over three months for the 21 members of the BTC to be appointed on 10 February 2017. Ten
members were nominated by the government and eleven by the MILF. The precise details of the selection process are poorly transparent, however, even for those on the inside. While the MILF clearly nominated members from amongst its own ranks, the government also introduced members of groups that had not previously been represented on the BTC or involved in the peace negotiations, such as the so-called Sema faction of the MNLF, as well as representatives of local government units, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Christian settlers and the non-islamised indigenous peoples. While this diversity in the makeup of the BTC is certainly a step towards greater inclusivity, it also harbours risks. It is not clear, for instance, to what extent the appointed members are accepted as representatives of their respective groups. The expanded and newly configured group is also likely to find it difficult to reach joint positions, particularly given the time pressure that exists.

While the MNLF’s Sema faction is willing to participate in the current further negotiations based on the BBL, other factions of the MNLF reject this. The government has therefore embarked on parallel negotiations with the MNLF faction centred around its founder Nur Misuari, which build on its negotiations to implement the Final Peace Agreement of 1996. It is now envisaged that the Nur Misuari faction of the MNLF will produce its own draft autonomy law by July 2017.

The most likely outcome of these two parallel negotiation processes is that both drafts will be submitted to the Congress in July, at which point the Congress will then need to merge them into a single draft. This is an extremely ambitious undertaking with manifold risks. Right now it is an entirely open question how the population of the Bangsamoro region and the parties to the conflict would react to a compromise that might represent the lowest common denominator, and omit key elements of the 2015 draft of the BBL.

One of President Duterte’s key aims is a constitutional reform designed to bolster federal structures. This might also jeopardise the acceptance of a revised BBL. Observers fear that those elements in the existing draft BBL which some members of the Congress categorised as unconstitutional will be removed from the revised draft, to be addressed later in the context of a constitutional reform. These include among other things territorial issues, issues of sovereignty over particular natural resources, as well as issues of domestic security and the possibility of taking out international loans. If such issues are excluded from the negotiations and deferred until they can be discussed in the context of federal structures, then in practice this could lead to the deferral of decision-making on important components of the BBL for an indefinite period. It is to be feared that such a delay would lead to disappointment, and create fertile ground for further radicalisation in the Bangsamoro region.

Even now the region is already experiencing an increase in the frequency of attacks by radical Islamist groups and terrorist organisations such as the Maute group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Abu Sayyaf. Further growth in the strength of these groups could pose a serious threat to the peace process. Partner organisations of MISEREOR in Mindanao identify as the driving force of radicalisation among young Muslims not foreign influence (wielded e.g. by IS or other extreme Sunni elements), but rather frustration with a protracted peace process marred by setbacks.
Moreover, violent conflicts between clans and family feuds (Rido) that persist across generations remain a serious threat to peace.

Mechanisms and institutions providing support

If the peace process is to succeed it is crucial that Congress Representatives in Manila and the population at large are brought on board with the process – even though this will be difficult, given the aforementioned time pressure. Among others, the peace tables currently being set up in various regions (North Cotabato, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have been mentioned) can and should support this. So far little is known about how these peace tables will actually be organised or how they will operate. As of mid-February, they had still not been officially set up. This much would seem clear: it is envisaged that they will serve as public sounding boards – also for those groups and sections of the population that are not represented on the BTC or in the peace negotiations.

Furthermore, the BTC will be supported by a kind of advisory body – the Bangsamoro Assembly. The assembly will advise the BTC on formulating the new draft law, and ensure the participation of more sections of the population and stakeholder groups in the Bangsamoro region. Like the peace tables, this assembly has also yet to be set up. Both processes, the assembly and the peace tables, could help support the inclusivity of the process. It remains unclear how this could be achieved in just five months, however.

Known and proven international mechanisms to support the peace process – such as the International Contact Group, the International Monitoring Team, the Independent Decommissioning Body and the Tripartite Monitoring Team – remain in place, at least on paper. At present they are inactive, however, and there is no clear indication as to their new role or current mandate. This is because, officially, the task is now no longer to hammer out the peace agreement, but to implement it. We must also assume that under Duterte, the Filipino government’s appreciation of international monitoring and advisory mechanisms will decline perceptibly. This does not make them any less important, however. On the contrary. Particularly during the current transitional phase the mechanisms for monitoring ceasefire agreements and for supporting ‘normalisation’ are of paramount importance for preventing any repeated flare-ups of violence – or documenting them when they do occur. This applies to both international and local mechanisms alike.

Civil society in the Philippines – A key factor for peace

In this fragile situation it is especially important that civil society organisations continue their work to shed light on the context and causes of the conflict, and provide information on the peace process. Social media are playing an increasingly important role in this setting. The peace talks are only likely to succeed if broad sections of the population are brought on board. The many civil society organisations large and small in the Philippines that have spent not just years but decades working for peace without becoming disheartened deserve recognition, respect and support. They have played a crucial role in ensuring that more people in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region are now able to live in peace, and that despite numerous setbacks there are now prospects for lasting peace.

Particularly regarding the attitudes of the Christian population in the Bangsamoro region, it is important to create an understanding of the fact that one key concern of the Muslim population of Mindanao is gaining acknowledgement of the injustice suffered – rather than retribution or restoration of the pre-colonial status quo. The Christian population are highly mistrustful of the peace process, and very anxious regarding possible outcomes of the negotiations that might marginalise them. The Catholic Church in particular must exercise a high degree of responsibility here. This is why the Oblate Missionary Foundation (OMF) has launched dialogue processes in many Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Cotabato, one of the regions of Mindanao hardest hit by the civil war. In this setting OMF has found that preconceptions can already be reduced by familiarising the Christian inhabitants of Mindanao with the true history of the region. So far this has not even been taught in schools. Nor are the Congress Representatives in faraway Manila, who will take the final decisions on draft legislation such as the BBL, aware of this history. Modifying curricula accordingly would therefore be a relatively simple and obvious measure to counter the formation of prejudices – which underpin and foment structural and physical violence.


During the election campaign Duterte had promised the Muslim population reparation. He comes from Mindanao himself. This was one important reason why so many people in Mindanao voted for him. ‘With his huge political and social capital, President Duterte can achieve a great deal. He can make the peace process succeed – or fail.’ So we were told recently by one of MISEREOR’s Muslim partners. There is now considerable reason to doubt, however, whether Duterte really understands the Moros’ desire for acknowledgement of the injustice they have suffered, and it remains to be seen how strong his commitment to a lasting peace in the Bangsamoro region and the whole of Mindanao really is. Consequently, Duterte’s recent decision to end the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (which had been resumed with such enthusiasm) as soon as the process hit difficulties, his lifting of the unilaterally declared ceasefire and his immediate declaration of ‘total war’ against the New People’s Army (NPA), give grounds for concern. By taking these steps he has also de facto accepted the more recent escalation in violence in parts of Mindanao. The fact that Duterte also tramples on human rights and that his so-called war on drugs has already cost thousands of people their lives risks brutalising society and making violence even more socially acceptable as a seemingly legitimate means of resolving conflicts. In this connection, the director of a Catholic partner organisation of MISEREOR in the Cotabato region has urgently requested MISEREOR to continue providing support and solidarity. ‘Please continue supporting us [...] in whatever way you can. Ultimately we are all human beings, and all members of the same family of humankind. [...] We must work together to make this world a peaceful and beautiful place in which each and every one of us can be happy.’ As well as greater mutual understanding, institutional reforms, structural change and greater social cohesion will be key to the success of the Bangsamoro peace process. We must continue working together to achieve these goals.

[This article was originally published in Germany through German language and translated into English by John D Cochrane in cooperation with MISEREOR]

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Posted on 12 May 2017 by cbcs_mike

Thirty two Moro CSO Leaders coming from different provinces of Davao converged in a consultation forum conducted at MTRC , Bajada, Davao City on May 9, 2017 sponsored by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS).


The forum participants were spearheaded by the Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH) for Davao areas led by Mr. Sami Buat and MNLF Commander Leopoldo Lalang, Led Convener and Co-Convener respectively. BM-PUSH is a loose formation of community leaders committed to support the ongoing peace processes between the government and the Moro Fronts as well to relentlessly call for unity and solidarity among the major Bangsamoro groupings .

The CSO leaders’ apprehension came after President Duterte express some sort of “pessimism” in the ongoing Bangsamoro Peace Process due to failure of the MNLF – Misuari faction to unite with the MILF now leading the negotiation. However, it was discussed that even if the Misuari group was allowed by no less than President Duterte have their own and separate negotiation, the upcoming Bangsamoro Enabling Law (BEL) to be crafted by the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is already a convergence of both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the presence of no less than five representatives from the former.

The other crucial issues raised in the dialogue of Moro CSO Leaders are the timetables in drafting new BEL is very erratic. Under the Duterte’s Roadmap for Peace and Development, it was stipulated that the final draft will be finalized and submitted to the Office of the President before July 2017. Then later, there was a request from the Office of the President for the BTC to submit their draft by May 18, 2017 and in response the later committed to hand the final draft by May 15 which is merely four days to go. And current information reveals that a new timetable was forwarded by BTC, extending their submission of final draft of BEL to the president on June 1, 2017. Be that as it may, again around twenty two days left and still time is in essence because if we follow the Roadmap, before it can be submitted to the president, the draft BEL should have been presented to “Bangsamoro General Consultative Assembly” which still don’t have features of how it looks like for now.

In the afternoon, Al-Haj Murshid Mascud, vice chairman of the Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) and currently Chairman of the “BTC – CSO Task Force on Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly” was invited to shed light on the function of the task force related to the ongoing drafting of the BEL. He explained that the task force is creation of BTC Honorable Chairman Ghazali Jaafar purposely to consult the CSO Leaders in Mindanao and in preparation for the stated Bangsamoro General Consultative Assembly. He informed the leaders, that other Task Forces were also created to consult other major groupings and sectors of the Moro society among others, the Sultanate, Religious, Non-Moro Settlers, IPs, Business, LGU officials women, youth and others. He ended by saying due to time constraints, the BTC may or may not able to conduct the said assembly “but at least we already have started and now doing our consultations on the gorund.”

In the plenary discussions, the CSO leaders identified appropriate and timely advocacy campaign during the period and concretized important issues and concerns in a statement signed by the participating CSO leaders and committed to furnish all concerns and in media entities.

Datu Emil Gonzales

CBCS Area Coordinator

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Posted on 11 May 2017 by cbcs_mike

Fifty four Officers and Members of the Bangsamoro Network for Solidarity and Accountability (BANSA) of North Cotabato and Bukidnon Chapter conducted their Annual Regional Assembly held at their center in Barangay Layug, Pagalungan, Maguindanao on April 29, 2017. BANSA is a network organization of Moro multi-sectoral community leaders organized in all major areas in Mindanao.


The highlights of the assembly is an update of the ongoing Peace Processes between the government and the Moro Fronts in particular the GPH-MILF Peace Talks which was delivered by Mike Kulat, Senior Program Officer of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) as their resource person. The resource person discussed the Two Tracks in the Duterte’s Roadmap for Peace and Development in pursuance with the Bangsamoro peace process namely: (1) “The Legislative Track” which is an opportunity to establish Bangsamoro Governance ahead of Federalism and (2) “Federalism Track” which seeks to federalize Philippines first before establishing the Bangsamoro Governance.

On the other hand, the other caveat aside from racing against time in finalizing the draft BEL is the faction of the MNLF Misuari wing which was also allowed to craft their own draft of New Autonomy Law (NAL) base on the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. As of the moment, few if there were who knows what is happening on that process and at lost on how it will be converged with the BEL.

In the plenary discussion, the participants tackled openly the pros and cons of the above two tracks and finally got their consensus to advance following “Legislative Track” in establishing Bangsamoro Governance ahead of federalization even as they committed to support the federal move of the president later.

The assembly finally agreed to make their letter of appeals to major stakeholders of the peace processes that stated in part: “The BANSA believes that the centuries-old conflict in Muslim Mindanao will only be resolved by addressing the injustices committed against the Bangsamoro People through the passage of the Bangsamoro Enabling Law base on the wisdom of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The organization also strongly believes that the prioritization of the Bangsamoro Enabling Law or Bangsamoro Basic Law should come first before the shifting of the unitary system of governance to federal form of government.”

By: Fardju Indin

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Posted on 03 May 2017 by cbcs_mike

Fifty nine Moro multi-sectoral leaders of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City (SOCSKSARGEN) converged in a forum dubbed as “Consultation/Forum on Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH) held at Ameliyah’s Place in General Santos City on May 1, 2017.


The activity was facilitated by Ms Aida Seddic, MUWOGEN President and which was sponsored by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in cooperation with its network member organizations operating in the area as well as the BM-PUSH Convener for SOCSKSARGEN areas, Rajahmuda Abdulhamid Ingkong and Datu Kads Masahod as Head and Deputy head respectively.
The consultations aimed at keep posting the multi-sectoral leaders on any development in the peace processes particularly on the GPH-MILF and GPH-MNLF Peace Talks and identify appropriate responses and advocacy campaign.

The activity was opened with an input from Sheikh Abdulbayan Zacaria, a fresh graduate of Islamic Studies from Riyadh University tackled importance of unity and solidarity on the Islamic perspective where he discussed verses from the Qur’an and Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) on related issues.

In relation to peace process, Mike Kulat, CBCS Senior Program Officer and also Vice Chair of the CSO Task Force on Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly, emphasized to the participants, of the CSO identified important milestones or direction of the ongoing peace process as:
(1) Creation of the new expanded BTC (2) Drafting of the new BBL or Bangsamoro Enabling Law (3) Conduct of Bangsamoro General Consultative Assembly (4) BBL/BEL submission and certifying as “Urgent Bill” by the President (5) Congressional Enactment of BBL/BEL (6) Referendum/Plebiscite in May 2019 Election (7) Establishment of the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) (8) Election of 1st Bangsamoro Parliament Members (9) Formation of the Ministerial Form of Bangsamoro Government (10) Signing of the “Exit Document”.

He stressed that the importance of knowing these important roadmap and timelines is “for the Multi-sectoral leaders to identify appropriate and timely advocacy campaign as the negotiation is progressing.”

On the other hand, Al-Haj Murshid Mascud, Vice Chair of Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) and Chair of the “CSO Task force on Bangsamoro Consultative assembly”, emphasized that: “the task force was created under the of Office of Bangsamoro Transitional Commission (BTC) Chair Hon. Ghazali Jaafar purposely to conduct consultations and dialogues with different leaders of the civil society organizations (CSOs) all over Mindanao.” This he said: “is in preparation for the conduct of the Bangsamoro General Consultative Assembly where final BBL draft will be presented before its submission to the president or later if time does not warrant.”

This was followed by open forum where participants were given ample time to express their comments, suggestions and queries related to the inputs that were presented by the resource persons and ended with final impressions given by selected leaders from the participants.

Finally, they closed the activity by signing of their manifesto which contained their full support, recommendations and appeals to the direct stakeholders of the ongoing peace processes between the Moro Fronts and the Government.


Ustadz Ebrahim Sandigan

Area Coordinator for SOCSKSARGEN


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Unity and Solidarity


Posted on 28 April 2017 by cbcs_mike

The CBCS as a network organization of the CSOs in Mindanao is on accompaniment of the GPH-MILF Peace Process. It is in this context that CBCS-Zamboanga del Sur installed steel framed billboards and hanged streamers in Pagadian City and Labangan, Zamboangadel Sur, as part of its IEC materials, a contribution towards peace in Mindanao in particular and the whole country in general. Below is the text/message:

Bangsamoro Now_Fed LaterUnity and Solidarity

 However, such initiative was mis-understood by the DILG office of Labangan thru MLGOO Maribel Estoquia, for her the text: BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW NOW! FEDERALISM LATER., is not good. The term FEDERALISM might cause the termination of the barangay officials since they had submitted a resolution to the office of DILG-Labangan before, supporting the Federalism of the President. Thus the concern MLGOO mandated the Brgay. Officials to immediately remove the hanged steamers and tarpaulin and it was immediately followed by the barangay officials due to fear of possible termination.

On Apri 12, 2017, an urgent meeting with the concern MLGOO was then initiated by the Area Coordinator together with TarhataDaligdigan, a CBCS and BM-PUSH member and convener in Labangan and Rasam Disoma, a CBCS member of Pagadian City. The objective of the said meeting is for the CBCS to clarify the removal of the said IEC materials in Labangan, Zamboangadel Sur. The meeting had answered the questions of both side on the issue of installing/hanging those IEC materials. Below are the highlights of the meeting:

CBCS: Greetings! What is the reason of removing those IEC materials Streamers and tarpaulin?

DILG-MLGOO : To avoid termination of the Brgy. Officials of Labangan, particularly in barangays Tapodoc and Brgy. Lower Campo Islam. Because the term Federalism Later is not good, its just like having a competition :BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW NOW! FEDERALISM LATER”. She suggested to replace the text message instead of Federalism later… just replace it with on unity and convergence. In addition; you need to prepare a letter of request to LGU Labangan for the installation of the billboard/streamers address to the Local Chief Executive.

CBCS: We explained that we are not against Federalism, what we want is establishment of Bangsamoro Basic Law/BANGSAMORO GOVERNMENT fist then Federalism will follow, anyway these are the 2 tracks for Peace as adopted by the Duterte Administration.

This problem occurred a week after installing the billboard and 2 days after hanging the streamers in Labangan, Zamboangadel Sur.

The issue was immediately brought to an urgent meeting of BM-PUSH, Zamboangadel Sur on April 15, 2017. Below is the group’s recommendations:

• Hanging of the removed streamers in another location
• Print a tarpaulin on unity and convergence for replacement of the removed tarpaulin in Junction Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur
• Write a letter address to OPPAP head for information on the said problem, to be drafted by Mohaiya and to be finalized by Sultan MaguidMaruhom and then send to OPPAP office.


• The issue is being read by the people.
• The issue may push a question and realization of the people on what is going on in Mindanao as far as Peace Process is concern
• The need to know more
• The need for peoples participation
• The need for Moro people to work together and support the existing peace process • Discouragement of the CBCS members in the ground
• Violation of our rights to express what we want
• Lost of funds/ sayangang pera and time


Area Coordinator
Zamboangadel Sur

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Posted on 05 April 2017 by cbcs_mike

The second Regular Session of the new expanded Bangsamoro Transitional Commission (BTC) started Monday at the EM Manor Hotel in Cotabato City. The session was greeted by ralliest who manifested their full support to the BTC but on the other hand reminded the Commissioners of the importance of working as a team of problem solver for the benefit of the Bangsamoro rather than adversarial being from the government or from the MILF.


The coalition of CSO Leaders lined up at the entrance of the session hall even before the BTC Commissioners arrived, carrying placards which embodied their supports, appeals and expectations from the commissioners. Some of these placards says to BTC : “UNTO YOUR HANDS WE ENTRUST OUR FUTURE”, “WE TRUST YOUR WISDOM AND DETERMINATION TO WORK FOR A SOLUTION OF MORO ISSUES”,”PLEASE DON’T FAIL US”, “PLEASE WORK AS PROBLEM SOLVING TEAM” and “TREAT EACH OTHER AS PARTNER RATHER THAN COUNTERPART”.

The CSO Leaders was spearheaded by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) with its networks such as: UNYPAD, MAPAD, UNYPHIL-Women, BCN, SLATAN, MWDECC, LBO, BM Doctors Association of the Philippines, BM-SEED, BCJP, MWAG among others.

The above slogans were also contained in an official Letter of Appeal submitted to the Chairman of BTC Honorable Ghazali Jaafar and furnished with all the Commissioners. The CSO Letter of Appeal was recognized by the chair at his opening statement and supposedly to be read by Dr. Anniera Usop but was suggested from BTC instead to be read by Emran Mohamad from the Bangsamoro Communication Network Inc.

However, due to arising of important issues raised by by one veteran-lawyer member of the commission, the reading of the CSO manifesto were either overlooked or set aside. Be that as it may, one observer quipped, “grandstanding” is mounting which is critical point that will prevail in the succeeding sessions of BTC. Commissioner Samira Gutoc-Tomawis reminded her colleagues on the issue above, that the commission had “only around two months and a half to work with the new BBL” while their sessions is still stocked on internal rules. This precisely, why the CSO made this short support rally is and their apprehensions of coping with the timelines of the Bangsamoro Peace Process.

Nevertheless, not too late and the Commissioners still have the opportunity in racing against time as Commissioner Atty. Raissa Jajurie, head of the Committee on Internal Rules that if approved BTC will have a “three-day sessions every week” a sort of marathon sessions if not defeated by so much “grandstanding” within.

By Mike Kulat

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Posted on 29 November 2016 by cbcs_mike

The Maguindanao Civil Society Organizations Consultative Meeting which was participated by sixty seven (67) leaders was held last November 24, 2016 at Pagana Native Restaurant, Cotabato City and organized by three major CSO Networks operating in the province of Maguindanao such as the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organization (CBCS), Peoples CART (P-CART) and League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO).


Basically, the consultation aimed to draw the line of relationship between CSO’s and ARMM government. It was also held to build an enabling environment for the CSOs to lay down their sentiments and plans for the betterment of governance of the region.

The activity was composed of five (5) major sessions held. The first session aimed at understanding the concept of CSO – Government Relation on the context of Cotabato City Government Experiences through the inputs of Dr. Danda Juanday, the City administrator of Cotabato City.

The second session was a workshop where the participants identified different issues pertaining to the eight thematic issues/areas – Poverty Alleviation, Health, Education, peace & Security, Human Rights, Gender and Development, Disaster Risk Reduction/ Crisis Management and Governance and provided recommendations to the identified issues.

The third session was an open forum where the participants free flowing added some other significant issues not mentioned among the pressing issues that also needs further focus and attention by the Government and CSO partnership:

a. A need of capacity building to the CSOs especially those that are envisioning to handle multi-million pesos projects;
b. A need for the CSOs to participate meaningfully in governance of the local governments;
c. A need to cleanse the list of 4Ps beneficiaries through geo-tagging of their respective houses;
d. A need to mechanized the rice farming in the province and provision of farm inputs and post-harvest facilities;
e. Tahiriya Curriculum was recommended to balance the education and integration of Islamic Values in K to 12;
f. A need to strengthen the RA 9003 in the local levels and establishment MRF (Material Recovery Facilities) at the Barangay;
g. Support to “Backyard refrigerator” project (Backyard gardening) and introduction of “floating rice” to the flooded areas of the province;
h. A need to strengthen the Local Child Protection Program at the barangay and municipal level;
i. A need to address the uncomfortable truth that mostly the LGU organized CSOs were accredited and can accessed programs and projects at the municipal level, not the legitimate and mobilized CSOs;
j. A need to support for the farmers affected by series of Armed conflict and El Nino through finding proper financing instructions for capitalization;
k. A need to proper staffing, right salaries and balanced curriculum in the Madrasahs; and
l. A need to submit this consultation output to the Office of the Regional Governor through the ARMM Regional Summit.

The fourth session was a synthesis given by Mr. Emran Mohammad from Bangsamoro Communication Network (BCN) where he agreed that all observations were true and that there is a need to capacitate every CSO that deals with ARMM; Express everyone’s sentiments, issues and needs to the regional government through this plan and elevate it during the ARMM Regional Summit; plan to advocate and wait for the response of the regional governor.

Finally, there were eight thematic issues identified as Poverty Alleviation, Health, Education, Peace & Security, Human Rights, Gender and Development, Disaster Risk Reduction/ Crisis Management and governance.

After discussion of thematic issues, CSO/stakeholders recommends steps and mechanisms that will ensure the sustainability of ARMM Regional Government and CSOs and also sustainability of all interventions of the regional government aimed at reducing poverty incidence, alleviation the poor living conditions of the Bangsamoro people in ARMM. Many Hoped this summit will open the direction and interest of the CSOs partnership with ARG.

The fifth session was a closing program given by Mr. Abdullah “Evhoy” Villaruel of the CO Multiversity sa Mindanaw (COM) followed by closing prayer led by Ustads Jaafar.

By Mark Hussain

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Sama People of Tawi-Tawi Decries Lack of Representation in the Peace Processes

Posted on 04 November 2016 by cbcs_mike

An intra-Moro provincial consultation composed of leaders of the Moro Fronts, Traditional Leaders, civil society organizations, Religious, Moro Political Leaders and other sectors converged to level off in responding to the current political challenges to their lives as Bangsamoro.
The activity attended by seventy two (72) leaders of the above Bangsamoro groupings was held on October 28, 2016 at the Beachside Hotel, in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. The leaders are coming from different island municipalities and the activity was sponsored by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in cooperation with the Oxfam Philippines.


In the whole day affair was started with an input on the challenges posed by the present Duterte administration in the pursuance of the peace process for the Bangsamoro. In particular point it focused on the Six Point Roadmap for Peace and Development and the Two Tracks for the Bangsamoro peace process. This involves; (1) legislative track and (2) the federalism track which the Bangsamoro themselves needs to decide on which route to follow.

Mike Kulat who was the main resource person stressed the importance of the consultation and forging of the unity and solidarity among the Bangsamoro in order to correspondingly respond to the call of the present administration. “The paradigm shift in the peace process set by president Duterte lies on the principle of Inclusivity and Convergence as a condition for the continuance of the GPH and MILF Peace Process”, Mr. Kulat said. In short, “the above principles can be gleaned and realized by reconstitution and expansion of the members of the new Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which will be tasked to draft the new Bangsamoro Enabling Law (BEL).” This he said is manifestation of “inclusivity” since the BTC memberships increased from fifteen (15) to twenty one (21) to include representation from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), ARMM, the Sultanate, Non-Islamized Indigenous People (IP), the Settler Leaders and other major groupings and sectors.

On the other hand, the “convergence” norm can be best understood to mean that the new BTC’s main sources in drafting a Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) compliant BEL are Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, ARMM Law, the IPRA Law, the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and those that will be supplied by the representatives of the new sectors. This he said: “both issues of inclusivity and convergence process are most difficult to attain considering that the Bangsamoro today had been deeply divided from ethnical and tribal divides to organizationally disfranchised” and therefore the Bangsamoro had no option than to solidify and unify their ranks.
During the plenary session where every participant was given ample time to say their piece and they were unanimous and committed to support and work for the unity and solidarity of the Bangsamoro. One aspect which is obviously not heard in the other provincial consultations were the sentiments of the Sama tribes of Tawi-Tawi of being neglected in many aspects both in government programs and the peace process itself.

One participant manifested: “Why are Sama always being left behind? During MNLF peace talks no Sama tribes were involved. Now the MILF is talking peace for 17 years but Sama tribes were never represented.” The participant continues to expound that even BTC composition under the Aquino administration, Sama tribes were never represented and their biggest fear is that when the new expanded BTC will be formed and they will again be forgotten.

The provincial consultation on unity and solidarity ended with the body through motions and duly approved consensus to issue their position paper embodying the major suggestions as discussed in the plenary session and which will be submitted to sboth GPH, MILF, MNLF and other concerned entities.

By Mina Cambri

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Posted on 20 October 2016 by cbcs_mike

Thirty seven (37) CSOs and multi-sectoral leaders attended a provincial consultation on Bangsamoro Unity and Solidaarity being spearheaded by the Consortium of Bagsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in cooperation with OXFAM and UNDP. The affair is being held at the Camila Hotel in Pagadian City this October 13, 2016 where the participants are coming from the community leaders of the MILF, MNLF, Sultanate/Datu, CSOs, Ulama/Asatidz, women groups and other sectors. These Bangsamoro sectoral leaders are coming from Pagadian City and the municipalities of Dinas, Dimataling, Margosa-tubig, Lapuyan, San Pablo and Tukuran.


A brief rationale and objectives of the consultations was presented by CBCS Program Officer Mike Kulat who stressed the importance of unity and solidarity in the lives of the Bangsamoro and their struggle for their right to self-determination both of the olden times and in contemporary era. However, he emphasized that the reality is that olden charisma was lost in the process and instead replaced by deep divides among the Bangsamoro. Thus, the situation needs an urgent concern in order to push forward the current peace process between the government and the Moro Fronts.

Guiamel Alim, CBCS Chairperson gave full view of the status of the peace processes both between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF. In particular, he presented the contents of “The Bangsamoro Peace and Development Roadmap” of the Duterte Administration giving emphasis on the “Six Path to Peace” and the “Two Tracks” in pursuit of resolving the Bangsamoro quest for freedom and self-determination. Mr. Alim stressed that: “the biggest challenge in pursuit of the Bangsamoro aspiration for their right to self-determination is the ‘inclusivity and convergence” principle of the Duterte presidency.

In the afternoon presented many parables of the real status of the divides among the Bangsamoro people and its implication to the political solution to the Bangsamoro people. He said: “That because of the diverse groupings of the Bangsamoro, they have diverse political agenda.” And in return “the government is forced to respond in diverse manner too or giving them opportunity to adopt forum shopping” in resolving the Moro problem.

The consultation ended with the commitment of the Bangsamoro sectoral leaders in pursuit of unity and solidarity as well as the formulation of a unified and common political agenda of the Bangsamoro as a whole.

By Ammier Dodo

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