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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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Duterte @ the TAF

What’s Next for Mindanao Peace Process Under Duterte Leadership?

Posted on 28 June 2016 by cbcs_mike

June 1, 2016
By Anna Tasnim Basman and Steven Rood

[This article i a reprint from In Asia-Weekly Insights and Analysis of The Asia Foundation. The authors, Anna Tasnim Basman is an assistant program officer for The Asia Foundation in the Philippines, and Steven Rood is country representative there. Basman can be reached at and Rood at and @StevenRoodPH on Twitter. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.]

In the lead-up to May 9 Philippine elections, anxiety mounted over how the decades-long Bangsamoro peace process to resolve the protracted conflict in Mindanao would continue – if at all – under new leadership. Now, as President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who will be sworn into office on June 30, sets about naming his new cabinet, peace advocates are watching his next moves carefully.

During the campaign season, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said that he would “put the Mindanao conflict on top of his agenda.” Photo/Rody Duterte Facebook page

During the campaign season, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said that he would “put the Mindanao conflict on top of his agenda.” Photo/Rody Duterte Facebook page

In its February 2016 public report about the implementation of The 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) recognized that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) had stalled and called for a Plan B “to build a path forward so that the next administration can hit the ground running, and the unavoidable hiatus while the new administration takes stock can be minimized.” However, in a widely-circulated paper, Judge Soliman Santos argued that it is more important that “the new administration takes stock of the overall situation of the Mindanao peace process than to hit the ground running on the BBL.”

During the campaign season, Duterte said that he would “put the Mindanao conflict on top of his agenda.” This was warmly welcomed by the two largest Moro Fronts – with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari explicitly endorsing his presidency and MILF Vice-Chair Ghadzali Jaafar calling him the “next president” when Duterte visited Camp Darapanan in February.

Amid this warm reception of Duterte’s presidency are the varying views of his Cabinet members regarding the Bangsamoro peace process – some are skeptical about it for political, constitutional, or security reasons while others see it as an opportunity to establish a Bangsamoro Federal State. In the face of these divisions in the Duterte camp, and the wider body politic, returning Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Jesus Dureza, has called for wide-ranging consultations on crafting a new Bangsamoro peace roadmap to include groups outside the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in order to make such a process successful.

So what’s next for the peace process?

Plan A would be to start where the process stopped: in the May 30 Declaration of Continuity, the government under President Aquino’s administration and MILF peace panels spoke of continued pursuit of a Bangsamoro Basic Law. That might have been more promising had Mar Roxas, the administration’s bet, been elected. In the current situation, when the administration candidate did not win, success with this tactic is uncertain, to say the least.

There’s a perception within the incoming administration that the Bangsamoro bill was not inclusive enough because the MNLF had not been consulted. A Plan B then is to move forward in a way that assures the “participation of the MNLF in any transitional authority that will be set up by the new autonomy law,” as stipulated in the Joint Communique signed by the government and the MNLF in the recently concluded Tripartite Review Process that the Organization of the Islamic Conference hosted in Jeddah. And, an embryonic mechanism exists for MILF-MNLF cooperation, in the Bangsamoro

Coordination Forum, though that has yet to really take off. A definite step in the direction of involving the MNLF is the anticipated visit by president-elect Duterte to Sulu to meet his long-time acquaintance, MNLF Founding Chair Nur Misuari (which would be reminiscent of what President Corazon C. Aquino did in 1986).

But even that leaves out other stakeholders, such as local officials who just won the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and its provinces, cities, and municipalities. Re-elected Governor Mujiv Hataman has always been supportive of peace process efforts, so he can be an advocate for this. Other officials expressed skepticism during debates on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, thereby fueling the perception that the process of devising the BBL was not inclusive. Utilizing the ARMM and other local governments for consultations toward a roadmap would help demonstrate that the process is not meant for the MILF alone.

Going beyond a focus on peace in Mindanao is the vow of President-elect Duterte to pursue the shift from a unitary to a federal state structure. Presumptive Speaker of the House Alvarez said that the BBL is “moot already” because of the thrust toward federalism (the Congressman later clarified that the government can pursue the BBL alongside the move toward federalism). This elicited some outrage and perplexity on the part of the MILF because candidate Duterte had promised to pass the BBL.

While some argue that the BBL must continue to be fast-tracked, even during a thrust for federalism, this seems largely to be because of worries about the longer time-frame for constitutional change than for passing a law (since an optimistic time-frame for constitutional change has a plebiscite to ratify amendments coinciding with the May 2019 midterm elections). Both the MILF and the MNLF seem to agree that a Bangsamoro self-governing unit within a federal system is an acceptable solution to the Bangsamoro problem. However, they emphasize the need for asymmetry, including recognizing the Bangsamoro as a nation as well as respecting the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) and 2014 CAB, so that the special requirements of solving the Bangsamoro Problem can be met.

The Aquino administration’s goal was always to accomplish the implementation of peace agreements quickly so as to be completed during his term. However, that was not to be. Now, the Philippines will have a new administration which must tackle this issue, and the shortest route –refiling the original bill and persuading the Congress to pass it substantially unchanged – seems very unlikely. All other scenarios – convergence with the MNLF and other sectors, involving the ARMM in consultations, or constitutional change – involve longer time periods.

Crucial during this “hiatus” would be three things. First, maintaining sufficient confidence in the political process, be it related to the MILF or the MNLF, so that armed insurgents do not engage in violent acts, and to demonstrate to those who might be tempted by the siren song of ISIS that a Bangsamoro-specific solution is possible. Second, whatever process ensues, it must be seen to be inclusive in order to demonstrate to the Filipino nation that the outcome is broadly acceptable.

Third, arrangements to address the long-standing poverty and deprivation that has been exacerbated amid the conflict in the region must be made. The MILF has consistently resisted socio-economic development that could be construed as counterinsurgency but has no objection to the expansion of regular government programs serving their communities. MNLF communities have been the subject of PAMANA and the current and incoming administrations must assess the efficacy of this program.

In this manner, what happens during the hiatus while final legislative or constitutional changes are made is important for the current fragile peace process to be maintained.

CBCS Secretariat

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Pass BBL in 2 years; make Bangsamoro pilot for federalism

Posted on 27 April 2016 by cbcs_mike

[NOTE: This is a reprint of an article from Minda News concerning some future proposals for the Bangsamoro Basic Law which the 16th Congress failed to enact] 

By Carolyn O. Arguillas on April 23 2016 11:21 am

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /23 April) — A Moro civil society leader said the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) needs to be passed “not later than two years from now” in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), to allow for the establishment of the new Bangsamoro political entity that can be the pilot project for the shift to a federal form of government.


IN TWO YEARS. Guiamel Alim, executive director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society tells a press conference on 22 April at the Ateneo de Davao University that the Bangsamoro Basic Law needs to be passed “not later than two years from now” in accordance with the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

Guiamel Alim, executive director of Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) told a press conference here Friday that the BBL has to be passed within this period as the CAB provides for a transition period of at least one year for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that would prepare for the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Under the CAB, the ARMM is deemed abolished upon the ratification of the BBL. The BTA then takes over until the first elected officials in the Bangsamoro political shall have assumed their post during the inauguration of the new Bangsamoro political entity.

Congress adjourned on February 3 without passing the BBL, paving the way for the holding of elections in the ARMM on May 9. Under the law, each ARMM administration has a three-year term of office. The next ARMM election is in May 2019 if the next Congress does not pass the BBL again.
A reporter asked if the peace groups that gathered here for a symposium dubbed “TItayan: Bridging for Peace” (Inclusive Political Transitions in the Bangsamoro) are planning to make a barangay as a pilot project for the implementation of the CAB.

Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando Quevedo said there are candidates who are advocating federalism “but federalism is a long-term project“ as it involves amending the 1987 Constitution.


PILOT. Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, tells a press conference at the Ateneo de Davao University on 22 April that federalism is “a long-term project“ as it involves amending the 1987 Constitution but the Bangsamoro which is going to adopt a parliamentary system of government, can be a pilot project. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

“What we would like is begin with a pilot project – not a barangay – but the Bangsamoro territory. If it succeeds, then perhaps all the others would say ‘ah dapat ganyan, more power more autonomy sa mga provinces… we hope that this will happen,” Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato and lead convenor of Friends of Peace, said.

The proposed Bangsamoro is adopting a parliamentary system of government.
Alim said the shift to federalism may not come soon. “I don’t think that will happen very soon.. it will take time before we can change the Constitution.”
But he said the idea of making the Bangsamoro region as an example is possible “because you know the system that is being adopted in the CAB is more of a federal type of government.. than presidential.”

“If this works then we can improve on it, if this is the way we think can help the country. But for now, federalism is only in the mind. There are so many things to consider in adopting federalism,” he said: geographical cohesion and competence of l local government units (LGUs).

“What are the geographical boundaries in creating these federal states. Two is the competence of LGUs without which we will be creating only a layer of bureaucracy like what is happening today,” Alim said.

He explained that the ARMM is merely a layer of bureaucracy between the national government and the local government units (LGUs). “This is a government that has no oversight over LGUs and so it is an intermediary organization, not helping so much and I think this is why the (phrase) ‘failed experiment’ was coined because it is not responding positively to the needs on the ground.”

The lone Presidential candidate advocating a change in the system of government from the present unitary, Presidential form to a federal system is Presidential frontrunner and Davao city Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

In his visit to the MILF’s Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao morning of February 27 and in his rally in Cotabato City in the afternoon, Duterte said that if he wins the Presidency, he would push for the passage of the BBL and make the Bangsamoro an example for the rest to follow under a federal system of government.

At the MILF camp, Duterte told MILF officials led by Ghazali Jaafar that he would convene a Constitutional Commission to amend the 1987 Constitution to change the system of government into federalism but “if it takes time, and if only to defuse tension, in my government I will convince Congress to pass the BBL then make it as a template for federal states.”

At the Cotabato City plaza, Duterte said there is a need to correct the historical injustices committed against the Moro people and vowed that under his administration, “we will try to go federalism.”

“Yang Bagsamoro sa mapa ngayon, wag nang galawin yan. Gawin na lang nating example na makopya sa lahat. Ang mangyayari nito, uunahin ko na lang pakiusapan ko ang Congress na we will pass the BBL (The Bangsamoro on the map now, let’s not touch that anymore. Let’s make it an example for the rest to copy. I will immediately ask Congress to pass the BBL).

He said he will also tell Nur Misuari “kopyahin na lang natin sila para sa Mindanao at buong Pilipinas” (let’s copy that for Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines”). Misuari, whom Duterte considers a friend, is founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) with whom government signed a Final Peace Agreement in 1996 and whose implementation has yet to be fully completed.

The Friends of Peace had earlier invited Presidential candidates to a dialogue on their peace agenda. Duterte confirmed attendance to the February 12 “Conversations with Presidential Candidates on the Bangsamoro Peace Process” at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City. Duterte, however, fell ill during an engagement in Manila the afternoon before and was advised by doctors to rest. He sent his City Administrator, Melchor Quitain.

Quevedo told the “Titayan” symposium on April 21 that administration bet Mar Roxas met with the Friends of Peace in Cotabato City on March 31 and talked about continuing the peace agenda of the Aquino administration.
He said Senate President Franklin Drilon, who accompanied Roxas, said they will pass a BBL “different from the House or the Senate” versions that they deliberated on “within 360 working days” from the start of the next administration.

Drilon is seeking reelection.

Quevedo said there were schedule problems in the “Conversations” with the other Presidential candidates – Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Grace Poe. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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Posted on 05 April 2016 by cbcs_mike

Presidential candidate Mar Roxas made a brief forum with selected leaders of the civil society organization in Cotabato City. The forum was organized by Friends of Peace headed by his eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and Mr. Guiamel Alim who was also a member convener of the group held at the Bishop Palace here in Cotabato City the other day.

Mar Roxas with Cardinal Quevedo while discussing issues with friends of peace.

Mar Roxas with Cardinal Quevedo while discussing issues with friends of peace.

It was a short but relevant and focus issues had been substantially discussed in the forum if he wins as president of the Philippines come May 9, 2016 election.
Foremost of the issues tackled as advanced by Mr. Bobby Benito was secretary Roxas’s plan on the peace processes especially of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which 16th Congress of the Philippines failed to enact. He had categorical response that the matter was among the important peace program under the “Daang Matuwid” which he will continue. He explains that: “the basic foundation of the negotiation is the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro) and the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) and that the only matter is how it will be expressed into law.” He further emphasized that: “the next step is to identify the flaws and where it went wrong and address those problems”.

On another issue, Mike Kulat from the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) reiterated that the report of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) which was tasked to study deeply the predicament of the Bangsamoro people rooted on the historical injustices against them. The report he said “gives full details of the so-called historical injustices”. He then asked Secretary Roxas if he would care to ask for “a public apology” for these centuries’ old injustices to the Bangsamoro People should he win as president.
After a deep pause, secretary Roxas managed to say: “What happened in the past are very unfortunate and regrettable. The hardships and travail is unimaginable.” However he stressed that: “I believed that words of apology are not enough and that as an action-man I think that action is more appropriate and that this is to mean what were lost must be returned” to the Moro People.

Also the issue of “Muslim na mananakop” was advanced by Yusoph Lumambas, secretary general of UNYPAD. Secretary Roxas was prompt to explain that “the matter is a wrong use of words.” And continued to elaborate that after the incidence it came into his mind referring to the unfortunate Zamboanga City Siege by some elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that even the word MNLF is not even appropriate much more the word Muslim. He gave an example of the MNLF under Chairman Datu Muslimen Sema who are not part of the incidence.

On the issue of what would people of Mindanao expects if he win as president he had substantially discussed what the present administration did, complete with facts and figures which he planned to continue and expand under the his administration.

By: CBCS Secretariat

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Posted on 24 March 2016 by cbcs_mike

Forty four (44) Moro civil Society Organization (CSO) leaders coming from different parts of Mindanao in particular from Island provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga City and Zamboanga peninsula. And the rest coming from mainland Mindanao were from SOCSKSARGEN, Central Mindanao, Davao and Lanao areas converged in a two-day reflection session for a deeper understanding of the peace processes between the government and the Moro Fronts.

Souvenir photo of the CSO Leaders

Souvenir photo of the CSO Leaders

The Moro CSO reflection Session was held at KCRTC, KFI Compound, Dona Pilar St., Poblacion 4, Cotabato City on March 23 – 24, 2016 is with a theme “Understanding the Peace Processes Towards Unified Advocacy” that aims to improve appropriate advocacy in accompaniment of the peace processes related to the Bangsamoro quest for self-determination.

The activity was prompted by the sad fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which was forsaken by the Philippine Congress despite of the high hopes and support of different groups and CSOs within the proposed coverage of the Bangsamoro entity.

In his opening remarks, Guiamel Alim Chairperson of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) made to remark on the non-passage into law of the BBL as: “What did the CSO did? Where did it go wrong? Can BBL be still passed in the next administration? And What are the best ways forward?” These are hard questions which the reflection session wanted to address. He was also able to present the Concept of Unity and Solidarity interventions to be undertaken by CBCS in different parts of Mindanao.

In order to shed light on the two peace processes two important personalities were involved as resource persons. On the MNLF-GPH-OIC Tripartite Review was presented by Datu Romeo Sema, Head Secretariat of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). In his presentation he stressed on the reasons why MNLF did not accept the result of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) among others the dilution of the original demands and the unilateral implementation by the government. This is the reason for having the 9-year MNLF-GPH-OIC Tripartite Review to thresh the loopholes that ended to the following: “establishment of the Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund to be used for socio-economic development projects in MNLF communities; referral of the agreement on the co-management of strategic minerals to the Oversight Committee created by Republic Act 9054; for the MNLF to participate in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission of the envisioned Bangsamoro Parliament, and for the creation of a tripartite implementation monitoring committee.”

On the GPH-MILF Peace Process, the participants are allowed to have dialogue with MILF Panel and Bangsamoro Transition Commission members headed by its Chair Mohagher Iqbal right at the BTC Office in Cotabato City.

In the dialogue proper, Chairman Iqbal stressed that “there will be no more serious negotiation” to take place between the GPH and MILF. What remains to be done is the implementation of the signed agreements referring to the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) signed on October 15, 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro forged on March 27, 2014 that ended with crafting and enactment into law of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which the 16th Congress of the Philippines failed to deliver.

Reacting to the CSO leaders query on the stand of the MILF amidst non-passage into law of the BBL, he explicitly said that the MILF had laid options but not necessarily in order as follows : the armed struggle, continue the negotiation as pursuance of peaceful means or political settlement of the Bangsamoro problem or Doing nothing. However, he added that the other option is “bringing the Bangsamoro issue into higher level of engagement” but did not elaborate. Nevertheless, he stressed that in case of pursuing the negotiation with the government, they agreed to the “as is where is” principle.

Chairman Iqbal also emphasized that among those identified factors that influenced the non-passage into law of BBL among others as: (1) some vested interest groups and individuals (2) some IP (indigenous people) groups influenced by outside forces (3) there are some extremist Christians. However, the peace process also built support groups like in the case of the remaining living Framers of the 1987 Constitution, the Friends of Peace, the National Peoples Peace Council, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines and the likes who are very supportive of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks.

The issues above became the bases of CSO Leaders workshop and plenary sessions in identifying their common advocacy which they will implement in their respective areas of coverage of operations for the coming days.

By: Mike Kulat

CBCS Senior Program Officer


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Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL): Elections, Prejudice, Ignorance, Constitutionality, MNLF, Lumad and Women

Posted on 11 March 2016 by cbcs_mike

March 2 2016: The Philippines government is considering establishing a new political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Peace Direct’s Local Correspondent of the Philippines, Rey Ty, looks at the issue and highlights some key problems that need to be addressed.


Image credit: Mr TinDC

While the BBL is critical to peacebuilding in Mindanao, many loopholes in the bill threaten to restrict its effectiveness.
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is a bill currently under deliberation by the Congress of the Philippines. If passed it would establish a new political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. But there are some key problems with it – and they need to be addressed. First, the law is seen as a partisan issue. Passing the BBL is considered a victory of current President Benigno Aquino III. In a year of presidential elections, different political parties do not want to give political mileage to President Aquino’s party, as it would be a feather in his cap.

Second, due to perceived Christian discrimination against Muslims in the Philippines, many Filipinos, most of whom are Christians, are automatically opposed to the BBL. Progressive church leaders such as Archbishop Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo of Cotabato have corrected blanket stereotyping and bias, talking about correcting social injustice against Muslims in the Philippines and engaging in interfaith dialogue. Quevedo has stressed that “the root cause of insurgency in the South is injustice.” Framing the bill in religious terms will not help as the issues are deeply historical, economic and political and have marginalized Muslims and non-Christian indigenous peoples.

Third, many residents who are directly affected by the BBL do not know enough about it. An intensive education and public information drive is necessary so that they are informed and aware of how it will affect them.

Fourth, the BBL framework violates a 2008 decision of the Supreme Court. This prohibited the attempt of the Office of the President to set up a separate Bangsamoro political entity in Muslim Mindanao. If the bill goes ahead, it will violate this previous Supreme Court ruling and exacerbate tensions.

Fifth, senior leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) oppose the proposed Bangsamoro basic law. The MNLF is one of the two major Muslim-led rebel groups in Mindanao; however, only the MILF is involved in the BBL talks with the MNLF sidelined. MNLF Islamic Command Council (ICC) Chair Habib Mujahab Hashim said that “the BBL is a product of a conspiracy” between the government of the Philippines and the MILF” (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). He said it violates the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the 1996 Tripoli Agreement which achieved autonomy for a Muslim Mindanao. Both the MILF and the MNLF are occupying the same territory. So there is now a conflict of governance and a conflict of territory.

Habib Mujahab Hashim says that for now there is no way for the MNLF and the MILF to resolve their differences with respect to the BBL: “If two previous agreements are abolished automatically with the passing of the BBL, then the MNLF will have no choice but to exercise our final option of independence for the Bangsamoro Republic,” he said.

This lack of commitment from key parties does not bode well for implementation of the law.
This lack of commitment from key parties does not bode well for implementation of the law.

Sixth, Lumads, or the indigenous peoples of Mindanao, feel left behind. Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous peoples’ rights and a former activist of the Igorot minority group in the Philippines, has said that the amended draft BBL falls short. According to Tauli-Corpuz, it does not meet “The minimum international standards contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the survival, dignity, and wellbeing of the non-Moro indigenous peoples.”

Pro-Lumad organisations say the government betrays indigenous peoples in Mindanao. They say the law defines them as Bangsamoro people, which “diminishes the distinct identity of the non-Moro indigenous peoples.”

Indigenous peoples stress they have been in existence prior to the coming of Islam and Christianity. So they should not be subsumed under a Bangsamoro or religious identity. This tension means the future of 33 ethnic groups of indigenous peoples in Mindanao – around eight million Lumads – is uncertain under the BBL.

Seventh, there is a lack of gender focus. The Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy reported that a small group of women, organised by the Women and Gender Institute and the Mindanao Commission for Women has said that had gathered and discussed recommendations for the BBL. Amina Rasul shared the following women’s recommendations:

  • Ensure women’s full political participation in all decision-making bodies ofBangsamoro;
  • Indigenous women should be able to enjoy indigenous rights recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and IPRA;
  • All laws and policies must conform to international human rights and humanitarian law;
  • Guaranteed women’s access to funding;
  • Sectoral representation for women and indigenous peoples;
  • “Equitable and inclusive and distributive justice for all regardless of class, creed, disability, gender and ethnicity”; among other recommendations.

It is crucial that women’s voices and perspectives are included in such an important bill.

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