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DAVAO BP-PUSH CONSULTATION

CSO LEADERS OF DAVAO APPREHENSIVE ON THE NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PEACE PROCESSES

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).

DAVAO BP-PUSH CONSULTATION

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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BANSA ASSEMBLY

BANSA APPEALS FOR FASTRACKING BEL IN ESTABLISHING BANGSAMORO GOVERNANCE AHEAD OF FEDERALISM

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.

BANSA ASSEMBLY

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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BM-PUSH DIALOGUE IN GENSAN 2

TASK FORCE ON BANGSAMORO CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY HEAD APPRISED MORO CSO LEADERS IN SOCSKSARGEN ON PEACE PROCESS

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.

BM-PUSH DIALOGUE IN GENSAN 2

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.

By:

Ustadz Ebrahim Sandigan

Area Coordinator for SOCSKSARGEN

CBCS

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Unity and Solidarity

THE INSTALLATION AND HANGING OF CBCS IEC MATERIALS IN SUPPORT OF THE PEACE PROCESS

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.

Consequences:

POSITIVE: NEGATIVE:
• 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

by:

MOHAIYA S. PUA
Area Coordinator
Zamboangadel Sur

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CSO APPEAL TO BTC

NEW EXPANDED BTC SECOND PLENNARY SESSION GREETED WITH CSO SUPPORT AND REMINDERS

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.

CSO APPEAL TO BTC

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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maguindanao-csos-consultation

MAGUINDANAO CSO CONSULTATIVE MEETING SUCCESSFULLY CONCLUDED

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).

maguindanao-csos-consultation

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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img_3256

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.

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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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pagadian-sectoral-leaders

NORTHERN MINDANAO BANGSAMORO CSO AND SECTORAL LEADERS’ CONSULTATION ON UNITY AND SOLIDARITY CONCLUDED

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.

pagadian-sectoral-leaders

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 annatasnim.basman@asiafoundation.org and Rood at steven.rood@asiafoundation.org 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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ABP

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.

GMA

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.

ABP

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)

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2016/04/23/pass-bbl-in-2-years-make-bangsamoro-pilot-for-federalism/

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