Archive | April, 2015



Posted on 21 April 2015 by cbcs_mike

The timely and newly organized group called Grassroots Peace Monitoring Network (GPMN) successfully launched <!–more–>,attended by more than 160 participants coming from twenty two civil society organizations (CSOs), international non-government organizations (INGOs) prominent guests held at the KFI Community Resource Center Convention Hall, Cotabato City on March 18, 2015.


The group borne out of a series of brainstorming spearheaded by Balay Mindanao Foundation BMFI, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), Oblates of Mary Foundation- Inter-Religious Dialogue (OMF-IRD) supported by the Non-Violent Peaceforce (NP) and United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEFF) international bodies later joined by Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC) and other local peace advocates.

The end result of this caucus tackled the current situations on the ground in their respective areas of operation with respect to the adverse effect of the tragic Mamasapano Incident on January 25, 2015 and the heightened emotions as a result of the Senate Inquiry as well as its impact to the most hoped passing into law of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). In general, the situation above inflamed emotions especially to the people outside Mindanao that calls for the stoppage of the peace process and “all out war” declaration in Mindanao. On the other hand, the apprehensions also in the civilians in conflict-affected areas are rising high. This made the convener group to call on other peace advocates to join in monitoring the situation on the ground, thus formed the “Grassroot Peace Monitoring Network” (GPMN) which is composed of more than 22 organizations who have their respective monitoring mechanisms on the ground like the Bantay Ceasefire of MPC, Tiyakap Kalilintad of CBCS, Tiyakap Kawagib of BCJP and the likes of it.

The launching program started with tri-people prayers for the Muslims, Christians and Lumads followed by the welcome message of Fr. Roberto Layson, OMI head of the Oblates of Mary Foundation – Inter-Religious Dialogue and head Convener of GPMN. In his message he stressed how this new networks of peace monitors work as a collegial body by saying: “If you want to go somewhere, walk – and when you walk, walk together”, stressing the importance of collaboration of each other in a journey for peace.

Mr. Guiamel Alim, chairperson of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and Executive Director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and Co-Convener of GPMN on his message stressed the euphoria brought about by the seemingly closure part of the 18 years negotiation culminating in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) being deliberated in Congress. However, he said the jubilation suddenly stopped with the “Mamasapano Incident” and inflate hatred, chauvinism, prejudices and calls for war against the Bangsamoro filled the air. Amidst those who calls for war in Mindanao he ended his message by saying and quoted: “You are free to choose which path to take (war or peace) but we are not free to run away from the result of your choice”. (See complete text of the message in a separate article)

On his part Quraish Langcap Team Leader of CBCS Quick Fact-finding Team (CBCS-QFFT) and which team will be the permanent group assigned to GPMN activities started his presentation by requesting the participants for one minute silent prayer in honoring the victims of the “Jabidah Massacre” on March 18, 1968 and coincidentally the launching program falls on the same date. Then he proceeded with presenting rationale, purposes, duties and function and the structure of the new coalition of peace monitors.

Also present are the GPMN participating member-organizations like United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Moro Women for Peace, economic and Cultural Center (MWDECC), Lipad Mindanao, IMEAS-USM, Moro Women Association for Good Governance (MWAGG), Kadtuntaya Foundation (KFI), MAGNETO, Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement (MPPM), LUMPINGAN, Alliance of Peace Advocates, Magungaya Mindanao (MMI), Community Organizers Multiversity (CoM), Integrity of Moro Association of Natives (IMAN), CBPPC, Youth Association for Peace and Development (YAPDN), MAPAD, Parihala Mindanao, Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP), Kasama Inc, ABAI, Suara Kalilintad and SHIELD. There are also media partners presence among them, the Voice Hot FM, the Mindanao Express, Public Information Agency (PIA), DXUP Teleradyo, GoG Bantay-Bayan, Mindanao Expose.

Among those support groups invited in the launching program and who committed their support are: United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), UNFPA, forum ZFD. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The government agencies like Office of the Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC-ARMM), Regional Unification and Reconciliation Commission (RRUC-ARMM) and Security Forces from the 6ID Philippine Army headed by their Deputy Division Commander General Lino Orense .

By Mike Kulat

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The Citizen’s Peace Council Held its First Meeting

Posted on 14 April 2015 by cbcs_mike

[This article is sourced from media release on the first meeting of the member-conveners of the Peace Council recently formed to help in ironing out prevailing contentious issues on the GPH-MILF Talks and the Bangsamoro Basic Law through the courtesy of Ms Karen Tanada, Executive Director of Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute]

The Peace Council held their first meeting on April 6, 2015. Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Ambassador Howard Dee, businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and youth leader Bai Rohaniza (Honey) Sumndad-Usman were joined by other co-convenors representing a broad swath of society. Religious leaders, business executives, youth leaders, civil society advocates, academics, and retired professionals, all active in national development, shared their expertise and experience. In the spirit of collegiality of peers, the conveners decided not to have a chair but to divide the work as needed.

The co-conveners included peace advocates, educators, economists and champions for social justice. The list includes: Archbishop Soc Villegas, Fr. Joel Tabora, Bishop Pablo David, Ms. Amina Rasul, Atty. Christian Monsod, Dean Sedfrey Candelaria, Dean Danilo Concepcion, Prof. Moner Bajunaid, Ms. Pat Sarenas, Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, Dr. Cielito Habito, Mr. John Perrine, Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta, Bishop Tendero, Atty. Marlon Manuel, Dr. Wilfrido Villacorta. Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, and Ramon del Rosario.

The meeting began with invocations by Archbishop Socrates Villegas and Professor Moner Bajunaid who both prayed for peace and goodwill.

Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. welcomed the group with the admonition that “the hard work begins after BBL is passed”. Honey Sumndad-Usman for her part shared the perspective of a young Muslim woman “whose future will be immensely influenced by the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala was requested by the convenors to present an overview of the Council’s role and objectives. He emphasized that the group is an independent body committed to helping the general public understand what is at stake in the BBL, identify contentious issues, and help find a path towards reconciling divergent views.

The group acknowledged the daunting challenges the country faces in its pursuit of peace. The history and culture of the Muslim, centuries of neglect, deep-seated prejudices and biases, the unfortunate clash at Mamasapano, and the strident voices denouncing the BBL and calling for all-out war.

As an initial step, the Convenors agreed to focus on the controversial BBL articles and organize clusters around the following broad topics: 1) constitutionality and forms and powers of government, to be chaired by Chief Justice Davide; 2) Justice, including social justice, and human development, to be co-chaired by Ambassador Dee and Honey Sumndad-Usman; 3) Economy and Patrimony, to be chaired by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and 4) Human Security.

The Cluster Chairs with their expanded membership will hold in-depth sessions in the coming days. They are expected to conclude by April 18, when they will share their output and future activities in a plenary.

Ambassador Howard Dee closed the initial meeting of the Peace Council with these reminders: Our overarching goal is peace with justice and development in Muslim Mindanao: a political peace settlement that addresses the injustices inflicted on the Bangsamoro religious, cultural and political identity as a people, as after all, they had their political identity before there was a Philippine nation; the human development of the Bangsamoro people by restoring their human rights and freedom to reverse their economic and social marginalization which has resulted in their human poverty level that is about twice the national average; a process of cultural and spiritual healing to overcome the deep-seated prejudices that continue to divide our people. ###

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Posted on 14 April 2015 by Ebrahim Sandigan

The Provincial Peace Forum organized by Sulong Sarangani, a flagship program of the Office of the Provincial Governor, on March 31, 2015 at the provincial gymnasium.

A Tribal Chieftain being interviewed by media during the peace forum.

A Tribal Chieftain being interviewed by media during the peace forum.

More than four (400) hundred IP, Muslim and Christian constituents of Sarangani province from different sectors joined the peace forum. Members of the Local and International Monitoring Team, PNP, AFP, NPA returnees, PLGU, MLGU, BLGU, IP’s, Religious Leaders, MNLF, MILF, Academe, Students, Youth, Women, and CSO’s were presents.

Government Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and GPH Peace Panel Member Senen Bacani were the resource speakers of the forum. The two explained the roadmap towards the es-tablishment of the Bangsamoro government.
The BBL is now in the House of Representatives and Senate for deliberation and is expected to be passed into law by June this year.

Hearings for the Bangsamoro Basic Law BBL were stalled after the Mamasapano clash on Janu-ary 25, 2015 where 44 members of Special Action Force SAF were killed and 16 MILF Sha-heed/martyrdoms and at least 5 civilians in an armed confrontation.

During the open forum, the provincial tribal chief Edmund Pangilan raised the question on what will happen to the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the areas covered by the Bangsamoro territory.

Government Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the rights of the IPs will be respected under the Bangsamoro. She said that the IPs can participate politically having reserve seats in the Bangsamoro parliament.
The participants looks forward that Bangsamoro Basic Law (DBBL) could bring development to the Bangsamoro people, not only in the core territory.
“If the BBL will be enacted and implemented, it can bring goodness to the Bangsamoro people even outside the core territory.” MILF/ LMT Ambrillah Mamadra, said in an interviewed.

The tribal chief however commented on the less information drive about the drafted BBL in the grassroots level in the sarangani area.
“There are many people in our communities which are not reached by information about this basic law,” pangilan disclosed.

The participants looks forward that Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) could bring development to the Bangsamoro people, not only in the core territory.

By Ebrahim Sandigan

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Posted on 14 April 2015 by cbcs_mike

More than sixty (60) leaders coming from different Church denominations and peace advocates in Mindanao converged in a dialogue<!–more–> with Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member AdHoc Committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) who is tasked to finalize it before its deliberation in Congress plenary. Also with him is Congressman Maxime Rodriguez from a party-list representative and member of the AdHoc Committee on BBL.

Cong. Rufus Rodriguez in pink shirt listens to to CSO leaders issues.

Cong. Rufus Rodriguez in pink shirt listens to to CSO leaders issues.

The dialogue held at the Bishop Palace, Cagayan de Oro City was initiated by Bishop Antonio Ledesma in cooperation with Balay Mindanao Foundation (BMFI) and other peace groups in Mindanao. Bishop Ledesma is also member of the large group of prominent leaders of the country called “Friends of Peace” and member convener of the “National Peace Council” an independent body recently formed by President Benigno Aquino III primarily established to help push forward the GPH-MILF Peace Process and the BBL.

The Consortium of Bangsmoro Civil Society (CBCS) was able to send seven (7) delegates to the forum/dialogue composed of its leaders coming from as far as Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Maguindanao, North Cotabato provinces, Davao areas and Cotabato City. The forum facilitated by Paul Paraguya allowed selected leaders to present their main agenda, questions and clarifications they wanted Congressman Rufus Rodriguez to response with. CBCS team head Ismael Kulat in his message appeal to Chairman Rodriguez and his colleagues “not to dilute or water-down the BBL” referring to the published eight (8) major provisions of BBL to be removed by Congress.

He explained that “some members of Congress are taking the appeal for non-dilution of the BBL as hostaging, diminishing and intruding the independence of the Legislative’s power of law-making.” He further stressed that “our appeal is for your comrades to understand that we recognized and respect the mandate and discretion of the Congress. However, we should understand that the GPH-MILF negotiation started by MILF from the issue of independence and felled-back to sub-state status in the MOA-AD but was turned down by the Supreme Court for unconstitutionality. Now, the MILF agreed to settle on a regional autonomy embodied in the now controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law which is for us is the minimum option in solving the Bangsamoro problem.”

The minimum option when further diluted or watered down will not solve the problem then posted a question: “What is the essence of passing a law which will not solve the problem? We have tried this in the Organic Act of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) R.A. 6734 as amended by R.A. 9054 catered to the discretion of Congress and the Constitution but failed miserably. Then shall we repeat the same mistakes?” Mr. Kulat ended.

Congressman Rufus Rodriguez in response to the issues advanced by the participants discussed lengthily the eight provisions which their committee agreed to remove as: (1) Bangsamoro Commission on Audit (2) Bangsamoro Electoral Body (3) Commission on Civil Service (4) Commission on Human Rights (5) Ombudsman (6) Bangsamoro Police Board (7) the provision on Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deployment within Bangsamoro that needs to follow “coordination protocols” with the Bangsamoro Government and (8) provision on the “contiguous areas outside core territory” which congress feels it will result in unending “creeping invasion of territory” even throughout the country.

In his explanation on the need to extract especially on the “Constitutional bodies” is that these bodies are explicitly stated in the constitution that “there is only one commission” and the fact that the envisioned Bangsamoro regional government is still under the Philippine government clearly violates those provisions. He emphasized that congress wanted to avoid being put into embarrassing situation and blamed once those BBL provisions will be questioned in Supreme Court.

In like manner, the constitution also explicitly defined that there is only one AFP and that it falls under national defense matter which is left as one of the Reserved Power of the government. Thus, following the “protocol of coordination” before deployment within the Bangsamoro government diminished its power in maintaining national order and security.

In consideration to the provisions above, Congressman Rodriguez gave emphasis that “the real meat of BBL lie on Article V and XII which prescribed the Powers on Governance and its Fiscal Autonomy respectively” that could already guarantee of running a good government. He further justified to “take note that the BBL have 242 provisions and if we extract 8 provisions, do you think it will alter the whole intent and purpose of the BBL?”

The other predicament being faced by the law-makers on those provisions were petition papers submitted by deans of law schools, legal luminaries and political analysts to remove those provisions of the BBL. But more critical he said: “is the position papers submitted by some assemblymen, all Moro governors of ARMM and some mayors”, particularly on the Bangsamoro Electoral Body which he said: “We know the underlying reason why” but did not elaborate, except by saying: “Tell me how will we stand against it when those position papers to extract those provisions are submitted by the Moro leaders themselves?”, he ended.

By Fardju Indin

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CBCS Conducted Trainors’ Training on the BBL and the Peace Process

Posted on 01 April 2015 by Ebrahim Sandigan

General Santos City. The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) conducted a day-long trainors’ training on the BBL and the peace process in Mindanao yesterday (March 15,2015) at the Science and Technology Training Center of the Mindanao State University, Tambler Campus, this city.

The activity was designed to build capacity of the members of the Federation of Muslim Student Associations (FEMSA) as peace advocates in the academe by providing them correct, updated and timely information on current issues in Mindanao, particularly the peace process.

According to Michael Kusain, FEMSA adviser, he invited FEMSA members from two universities and six colleges/schools in the city, but he said only two university and four colleges who responded to the invitation due to some valid reasons.

The speakers/trainers were Mr. Guiamel Alim, CBCS-COL Chairperson, and Atty. Raissa Jajurie, a member of the MILF peace panel and Commissioner of the Bagsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). Mr. Alim discussed with the student participants the concept of right to self-determination (RSD), and brief history of the Moro struggle and the peace process in Mindanao. BTC Commissioner Atty. Jajurie focused on the salient provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). She also spent time clarifying some misinformation and misconceptions about the BBL, including the alleged PhP 75 Billion to be appropriated by the Philippine government for the Bangsamoro government.

The speakers/trainers were impressed by the responses and eagerness to learn demonstrated by the student participants. Towards the end of the activity, two of the participants were given opportunity to express their statements of support to the BBL and the peace process in Mindanao.


Message of Support

Good Ma’am/Sir!
First and Foremost, allow me to greet you in Islam- “Assalamu Alaykum” which means “peace be with you”.

The war in Mindanao since the Martial Law days caused its people to live in substandard human condition. They still have memories of chilling fears caused by roaring sound of mortar shelling and gun burst.
They learned to hide and run trekking through marshy area or dense forest to save their lives during the genocidal campaign in early 70’s, and the all-out war of 2000,

Truly the experiences in the war have been emotionally and mentally oppressive. It develop anguish with in the hearts and minds of the Moro people especially the young ones whom at young age were already traumatized by the goriness of war. Thus, in their later life they grow up unproductive. Some turned into drug addicts and engaged in different forms of illegal activities. Others took up arms as means to seek justice against the government whom they blame for their present situation of poverty and deprivation.

The Bangsamoro fighting for freedom is the world’s longest struggle for liberation; idt started during the Spanish time, to the American occupation, and now with Philippine government troops. That caused the death of over hundred thousands of Muslim, thousands and wounded and tortured and over a million displaced.

Today, we have the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) produced by the peace negotiating panels of the GRP and the MILF as a solution to the conflict problems in Mindanao. It is about alternative mechanism in order to give the Moro their chance to shape their own destiny. BBL is good for the economic development of the Bangsamoro and on matters of security and peace and order. The BBL provides our own police force that will enable the Bangsamoro to maintain peace and order in its own territories.

Moreover, the BBL will help to prove that the Moros/Muslims are not terrorists, uneducated, ignorant and lawless people.

More importantly, as I end my message, allow me to express my words of thanks to the facilitators of the event as well as to the speakers. Sir and Ma’am, Thank you for your tangible contribution that you’ve shared with us.

Thank you and more power!

Jaynoden Lumapinit
Spokesperson of Muslim Student Association of Mindanao State University, Gensan

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PEACETALK: Perspectives from the BangsaMoro CSOs: “Talk to each other rather than talk about each other”

Posted on 01 April 2015 by cbcs_mike

(Editor’s Note: A message delivered by Guiamel M. Alim, CBCS Chairperson to the 2nd National Solidarity Conference on Mindanao on September 8, 2011 in Davao City and published in the MindaViews of MindaNews in its September 9,2011 issue. NOTE: It seems the Father and Daughter conversation repeats itself after the Mamasapano Incident)

An 8-yr old daughter asked her father (chief of the GPH negotiang panel Atty Marvic Leonin), “ Papa, why don’t you just give them the government that they want?” This child’s simple question may earn hard answers from mature public and intellectuals as:
1. They are asking for more than what we can give;
2. They are asking for something they cannot manage;
3. They are asking for something where others have rightful
4. They are asking for something that are not do-able and
implementable in our term;
5. They are asking for something that is not any better than
that what we offer;
6. They are asking for coffee when tea is healthier;

“But Papa, who determines what is better and healthier for them? “We know better,” the father said. “But why do you insist tea when they like coffee?” insisted the daughter. “Have you tried their coffee? What if they couldn’t live with tea? Can’t you drink your tea and let them drink their coffee?”

This is how I felt with what happened in the latest exploratory talks that led the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) peace panel to reject the GPH (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) proposal.

We in the Bangsamoro-CSOs were also among those who were entertaining high hopes that the peace talks will finally conclude a political agreement in a year’s time.

Both the GPH and the MILF were saying that agreement may be signed within one year.
A few days before the resumption of the exploratory talks between the GPH and the MILF, a survey conducted showed that 8 out of 10 people were hopeful for a successful peace talks. The expectation was even higher when PNoy (President Aquino) and Murad (MILF chair) met in Tokyo, Japan.

Now the mood has changed after what happened in the last exploratory talks. While it is said that the gap between the two proposals is like heaven and earth, those on earth always pray that they will go to heaven. And those who are in heaven are ready to welcome those from earth. The distance is still short. Walking will not bridge the gap, but talking will. I think that is the reason for this conference. We can provide the bridge.
 It is not yet a case of heaven and hell or east and west. Few people say it is a case of LQ?

Our Expectations
. We in the BM-CSOs (Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations) were among those who have high expectation that a final agreement will be signed under this administration. In fact we started to make a peace countdown for 365 days. But we were frustrated though not exactly hopeless, for what transpired in the latest talks. We expected the GPH to look into the proposal of the MILF the conventional way and make comments point by point and tell politely their counterpart that this one is acceptable, this we share, this one needs revision, etc. etc. In fact, the GPH can also say, but if you want, we have here a proposal that you can look at and find out if we can reach a convergence. Then series of review time can be called for purposes of reconciling positions until an agreement is reached. This was our expectation.

Our Belief
We are convinced that the sub-state proposal of the MILF constitutes the highest expression of their right to exercise self-determination without jeopardizing the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines as well as those with vested interests. It also enjoins democratic processes where plebiscites are held in some areas. It is a perfect balance of respecting people’s RSD (right to self-determination) and the protection and preservation of the state’s sovereignty. And the purpose of the peace talks is to look into its possibilities in consideration of the constitution and find common grounds for convergence.

To set it aside without seriously scrutinizing it and offer something, even if it is honestly different, is not the right way. We understand what the government wants, and that is asking the MILF, the BM (Bangsamoro) to listen to what it is saying. Because who knows, the government may even offer better and that “we are trekking the same destiny.” It can also be that meaningful autonomy is the other name for sub-state”? But we can also reverse the situation. The government to listen to the MILF, the BM (Bangsamoro), because they may also have better stories to learn from.

Maybe we can transform the concept of honestly different into sincerely accommodating and the 
3 for 1 into the holy trinity of cooperation, collaboration and coordination.

We still have to understand whether honestly different or the 3 for 1 proposal ( since we don’t have a copy of it) is better than the sub-state or that what is practical, do-able and implementable also means satisfactory to the Bangsamoro.

Our Observations
Our understanding of the GPH proposal is backtracking rather than fast tracking. This is because rather than use the consensus points earlier initialed, a renewed consensus has to be discussed, since neither the proposal of the MILF nor the GPH serves as a working draft.

Rather than do away with the Constitution, why not tinker with it and find a way to accommodate the agreement?. The Constitution does not make sense if it does not promote peace.

Considering the limitations of the ARMM, it can only do so much and enhancing it may even take longer than working with the Constitution now to accommodate a political agreement. The most that the ARMM can offer is a political capability and a confidence-building measure.

Improving the standard of living and promoting peace and security in the region can best achieved if the BM (Bangsamoro) has achieved a clearly defined political entity that serves as their source of political authority. A joint effort by the national government and the BM will make things a lot easier.

We in the BM-CSOs firmly believe that a political agreement that is acceptable and satisfactory will usher in a new relationship between the Filipinos and the BM (Bangsamoro) that will ultimately give birth to national unity and reconciliation. This is what our country needs.

Our Role
The BM-CSOs have been very active in helping the peace talks between the government and the MILF in various ways. We had in the past and up to now joined any OPPAP-sponsored for fora and consultations. During the past administration we and other networks, helped the government convinced the MILF to declare SOMA as a condition for the resumption of the talks.

We help provide political environment that is conducive to the peace talks by building the optimism of the BM masses towards peace and giving chance to the peace talks. We help monitor the implementation of the ceasefire, promote the culture of peace and we continue to build peace constituencies on the ground.

Our groups are involved in the civil protection component of the IMT (International Monitoring Team). We help in relief and rehabilitation work and engaged in socio-economic development work which is supposed to be a work of government functionaries.

We are mentioning all these things because we could have used our resources and efforts in development work rather than managing conflict. That is why we are very jealous of seeing a final agreement in Mindanao.

Our Challenges
1. The GPH and MILF to resume talks. Talk to each other rather
than talk about each other; leave your prejudices and
stereotypes behind and work as a team rather than as
opponents in a problem-solving manner;
2. Hammer out a political agreement that can usher in new
relationship towards national unity and reconciliation;
3. For the unlike-minded to give peace an opportunity to move,
rather than entertain your fears and spread unfounded
4. For peace advocates to continue to build optimism and reach
out others to build peace constituencies;
5. That this group can come up with concrete recommendations
that can fill in the gaps and hasten political convergence.

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Posted on 01 April 2015 by cbcs_mike

Fifty one multi-sectoral key leaders’ convergence of Bangsamoro communities in General Santos City and surrounding provinces successfully conducted <!–more–> a one-day peace forum on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) held at La Tuna Grill and Restaurant, General Santos City on March 28, 2015.

Participants coming from Bangsamoro various sectors listens during the a Peace Forum on BBL in General Santos City

Participants coming from Bangsamoro various sectors listens during the a Peace Forum on BBL in General Santos City

The activity was organized by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) led by its Cluster II Area Coordinator Ustadz Ebrahim Sandigan in cooperation with MCDOI of Prof. Morie Guiam, MWAGG and the Multi-Sectoral groups. The participants are coming from the Royal House of Sugoda Buayan headed by Rajahmuda Abdulhamid Ingkong, the Academe and professionals led by Dr. Janina Tito – PhD, the Ulama/Asatidz led by Sheik Abdulbayan Laguialam , the Muslim Women Organization of Gensan (MOWGEN), the civil society organizations, the MNLF represented By Danny Salisipan, the MILF group led by Adam Pokeg. Representative from Media and some Christian representatives also attended the forum. The activity was facilitated by Ms Aida Aida Seddic.

The program started with the opening prayer, followed by welcome message by Rajahmuda Abdulhamid Ingkong who extended gratitude to CBCS in involving their group in the forum and hoped all important activities related to the Bangsamoro issues, the Royal House of Buayan will be part of. Who ended his message in welcoming all the participants and stressed that: “In behalf of the Royal House of Sugoda Buayan, we are committing full and unconditional support to the passage of the unadulterated proposed BBL” as stipulated in HB 4994 and Senate Bill 2408.

This was followed by a brief input delivered by Ismael Kulat, CBCS Senior Program Officer and Peacebuilding Coordinator entitled: “The Bangsamoro Basic Law: Its Status, Perspectives and Challenges”. The presentation stressed a brief recollection of past struggle of the Bangsamoro from the time of colonization up to the current period, the corresponding political and incremental gains both tangible and intangible of the 494 years struggle of which are now culminated in the much hoped Bangsamoro governance that will be established through the now in Congress controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law. The resource person pointed out that the political economic, social and cultural civilization of the Moro People is being considered “earliest civilization developed in Asia” that made them acclaimed as “first nation”.

However, the advent of Bangsamoro colonization by waves of invaders for nearly 5-Centuries, the nation-state status was devastated that constitutes “national oppression and injustice” against them. Precisely, this was the intent and purposes of the BBL is to preserved what was left of the heritage of the Bangsamoro without necessarily detaching from the Philippine government and sovereignty through the “asymmetrical relationships” Mr. Kulat added.

Dr. Janina Tito in reaction to the presentation and she laid down the many apprehensions and challenges on the perspective of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, stressed: “Even in the level of Bangsamoro, we don’t know how many are in favor and how many are against the BBL? Will the constituencies and geographical coverage of the Bangsamoro government be lesser or more than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)? And most importantly of what degree BBL be watered down or diluted in Congress, we don’t know?” She however agreed on the input that “independence is a goal where there is no short-cut road to it but rather achieved through step by step approach.” And she ended with emphasis on the importance of the roles to be played by academe through schools, colleges and universities in the current advocacy especially in correcting misinformation on the BBL since they are holding thousands of pupils, students and personnel as permanent constituencies.

The activity concluded with an open forum where various issues and concerns on BBL were properly discussed with the participants and ended with discussion of the ways forward facilitated by Ammier Dodo, the CBCS Advocacy Officer that resulted in the formation of the loose “mechanism” composed of key leaders from the participating groups to sustain the advocacy campaign on BBL. The Royal House of Sugoda Buayan committed to conduct a large Symposium in the near future as their way of sharing in promoting and support to the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

By Ustadz Ebrahim Sandigan

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