Archive | August, 2015

MANIFESTO OF VARIOUS SULTANATES IN THE BANGSAMORO ON THE IMMEDIATE PASSAGE OF THE AGREED VERSION OF THE BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW

Posted on 27 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

We, the Traditional Leaders and Royal Ladies of the Bangsamoro, representing the various Sultanates such as the Sultanate of Buayan, Sultanate of Kabuntalan, Sultanate of Dicaya, Sultanate of Linantangan Dar-us Salam, Paramount Sultanate of Linantangan Buayan Dar-us Salam, Society of Empowered Ladies in Cotabato Empire, among other principalities in the Bangsamoro core territory, hereby manifest our unequivocal and unconditional support for the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014, opened the windows of opportunities for a meaningful development and dignified peace to reign in our land. It also ushered the advent – at least, to our belief – of a new political entity that is stronger and more autonomous than the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The CAB, a political agreement had to be translated into a legal document. So, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL draft was submitted to and reviewed by the Office of the President (OP) and ultimately submitted to the Houses of representatives and Senate for deliberation and passage into law.

We are now worried, however, by the fact that the document drafted by BTC and agreed upon by the Office of the President is now substituted with another version – HB 5811 – whose provisions are inconsistent with the CAB.

There are also provisions that will inevitably result to a Bangsamoro government that is even less autonomous than the present ARMM.

These amendments are simply unacceptable. We want a basic law that will address the legitimate grievances of – and correct the historical injustices committed against – the Bangsamoro.

We strongly ask the members of the House of Representatives and Senate for the immediate passage into law of BBL draft as submitted by the Office of the President.

Signed this 22nd day of July 2015 (5th day of Shawwal 1436 Hijrah) in Cotabato City.
(Note: Signed by 28 representatives of the various Sultanates in Mindanao)

By: CBCS Secretariat

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BANSA STATEMENT OF CONCERN ON CURRENT STATUS OF BBL

Posted on 26 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

August 23, 2015

BENIGNO C. AQUINO III
President of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, Philippines

THRU:
HOUSE OF THE SENATE and HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

We the Officers and members of Bangsamoro Network for Solidarity and Accountability (BANSA), Sugoda Buayan – Southern Mindanao Regional Chapter based in General Santos and with a coverage area of the City of General Santos, Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces in its Regular Meeting hereby appeals to the members Congress to reconsider their substantial changes made to the original Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) contained under HB 4994.

In essence, BANSA had been witnessed how painful life is, how these people fighting between life and death. They didn’t feel the emptiness of their stomach because of the fear that in just a glimpse of their eyes, life ends. This is not a sarcastic event but a reality that everyone must be aware of. Not only the people of Mindanao who experienced this chaotic incident but also some parts of the Philippines who are still deaf and blind with the real happenings.

We can’t deny the fact that Mindanao is suffering in many challenges and one of this is towards achieving “peace”. The people of the land specifically the Bangsamoros are shouting for peace. It includes there their right to “Self-Determination”. It is in which we theBangsamoro can be able to determine and practice our political status and other identities because we really feel that we are politically, economically, socially and culturally deprived of our legitimate right to exist as distinct nation or people.

In connection with this, Bangsamoro Basic Law in accordance with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was drafted as an alternative solution to this ongoing conflict. Thus, the original draft of the BBL will bring reconciliation and unity to the dreamed political entity the “Bangsamoro”. We strongly believed that all the provisions inclusive in the BBL will highlight the needs of the Bangsamoros.

Therefore, we are begging you to support and push the original draft of the BBL instead of the new versions. We are also encouraging you to join in our advocacy and be a catalyst of change and peace building with this place which we named as the “land of hope”. Hope for Peace, Justice, against oppression and wishing that one day no more youth will hold fire arms to protect their rights but a book instead to educate their selves.

We are really hoping that our agony will be put into realization!

(Signed by 24 Regional Officers and Members of BANSA constituting a quorum in their Regular Meeting)

By: Ebs Sandigan

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BANSA Officers and Members during their Regular Meeeting

BANSA REGIONAL OFFICERS EXPRESSED DEEP CONCERN OVER BBL STATUS IN CONGRESS

Posted on 26 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

Twenty five (25) Regional Officers and members of the Bangsamoro Network for Solidarity and Accountability (BANSA) of the Sugoda Buayan Regional Chapter – a conglomeration of multi-sectoral Moro society base in General Santos City expressed concern on the current situation of the of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the two Houses of Congress.

BANSA Sugoda Buayan Chapter Chairman Hadji Solaiman Kamad presiding in the Meeting

BANSA Sugoda Buayan Chapter Chairman Hadji Solaiman Kamad presiding in the Meeting

The apprehension of BANSA Regional Officers had been subject of their regular meeting which was held at the Science and Technology Training Center, Mindanao State University in General Santos City on August 22 – 23, 2015 attended by twenty five Officers and Members.

Hadji Solaiman Kamad, the Regional Chairman of the BANSA Sugoda Buayan Regional Chapter said in Maguindanaon dialect that “the Officers and Members of BANSA together with their communities had been very supportive of the GPH-MILF Negotiation from the start up to the crafting of the BBL.” However, he stressed that with the current changes, dilutions and insertions made with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s (BTC) original BBL embodied under HB4994. Eventually, both Houses of Representatives and Senate made their own versions of the BBL stipulated under HB5811 and SB2894 respectively, that virtually made the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law as law “weaker and lesser” than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Ms Zalika Uko, a woman representative of BANSA who is also a fresh graduate of MSU recently recalled the effect of the long-lingering armed conflict that affects everyone in Mindanao, not only those in the epicenter of conflict but even the peripheral areas like General Santos and the nearby provinces. She said, “we too and the younger generation of the Bangsamoro had been happy and hopeful that the long suffering will end with the crafting of the BBL by the BTC.

Ms Uko stressed that “with the present situation that both Houses of Congress made their own versions of the law, our delights and hope are turned into fears and apprehension.” She recalled that during the failed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) signing in 2008 caused a widespread armed conflict in many parts of Mindanao. And added “remember that the first escalation point of that armed encounters IN 2008 was in Sarangani province and we did not want this to happen again if Congress fails to pass a law that is acceptable to the Bangsamoro people.”

During the session proper it was agreed that with the above scenario, the regional Officers will issue a statement appealing to members of both Houses of Congress to reconsider their new respective versions of BBL and take cognizant of the gains of the 18 years negotiation that focused on resolving the Bangsamoro’s quest for their right to self-determination.

By: Ebs Sandigan

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The Council of Elders during their preliminary meeting

Key Leaders of Menovu Tribes of Bukidnon Apprehensive of the Current BBL Status in Congress

Posted on 21 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

Twenty seven (27) members of the Menovu/T’duray-Maguindanaon/Meranao Council of Elders in the province of Bukidnon conducted an emergency meeting held in Poblacion, Dangcagan, Bukidnon last August 12 – 13, 2015.

The Council of Elders during their preliminary meeting

The Tribal Council of Elders seen here during the preliminary part of the meeting

The tribal key leaders meeting was attended by some IP Mandatory Representatives, Municipal and Barangay Chieftains and community leaders with their counterpart in the Maguindanaon and Meranao coming from different Barangays in at least nine (9) municipalities of Bukidnon. The emergency meeting was supported and sponsored by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) facilitated by Datu Wilmar “Bobong” Ampuan, the Executive Director of Nasabaken Taraguney dut Kalilintad te Bukidnon Federation (NATABUK).

The meeting was triggered by the recent critical status of the fruit of the 18 years peace negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) culminating in enactment of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the Congress of the Philippines. The group worry was founded on the bases that the Tribal Groups of Bukidnon agreed and signed a declaration of unconditional support to the GPH-MILF Peace Talks in a general assembly held sometimes in January of 2014.

To enlighten the IP-Moro Council of Elders of Bukidnon, Mike Kulat, Senior Program Officer of CBCS presented a power-point presentation of the salient points of the original text of BBL stipulated under HB4994 in comparison with dilution or changes, insertions and deleting made by AdHoc Committee on BBL in the House of Representatives now renamed as HB5811 which was approved in the committee level last June 10, 2015.

Mr. Kulat also pointed out and explained that HB5811 was already officially rejected by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) by coming up BTC Resolution No.005, series 2015 dated July 29, 2015 signed by its fourteen members. He further made analysis on the BTC rejection to possibly mean rejection of the MILF leaderships simply because BTC and MILF Negotiating Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal is a member of the Central Committee of the MILF. As logical consequences is that both HB5811 and the Senate’s Marcos’s “Substitute Bill’ or SB No.2894 which he declared that in his version only around 20% was left untouched to the original text of BBL will likewise be rejected.

During the plenary discussion of the council of elders, Datu Bobong Ampuan clarified some queries on why a need for the Moro and IP tribes of Bukidnon have to worry on the fate of BBL when they were outside of the proposed Bangsamoro Core Territory. Datu Bobong explained in Menovu dialect that “the blood relations between the Islamized and Non-Islamized aborigines or natives of Mindanao are borderless.” He further clarified “that many of the IP communities lay adjacent to their Moro brothers in the decades armed conflict had been made as battle ground in the fire fights” the reason why the IPs as well should be equally concerned with the ongoing peace process.

In relation to BBL concerned, Municipal IPMR of San Vicente, Bukidnon, Bae Emelina suggested for the Council of Elders to undertake signature campaign for an appeal to Congressmen and Senators to uphold the original text of the BBL which had been substantially and widely consulted up to their grass-root levels. On the other hand, Datu Rene Mandog coming from Kalilangan, Bukidnon who is the council member representing the Meranao tribes gave brief background of the Bangsamoro problem and in which the 18 years negotiation intent to solve under the current controversial BBL but was substantially changed by the congress of their own new versions. He then recommended for the council members to also make Position Papers and furnished the members of the two Houses of Congress to let them know the apprehensions of majority of the Moro People and Lumad as both natives of Mindanao.

By: Datu Uko Ampatuan

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CSO SUMMIT PIC

SOCSKSARGEN CSOs express support for the passage of HB4994/BBL

Posted on 19 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

Closed to 150 leaders and representatives of thirty six (36) Civil Society Organizations from SOCKSARGEN region expressed their support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (HB # 4994) as drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) during a peace summit in General Santos City.

 Delegates to the CSO summit  posed for a souvenir picture


Delegates to the CSO summit posed for a souvenir picture

The CSO leaders comprised of Moro, Indigenous Peoples and Settlers from the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and General Santos City urge the Philippine Congress to respect the peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The peace summit, held at the AVR of Mindanao State University- General Santos City Graduate School on August 9, 2015; was organized by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA)-Southern Mindanao and with the strong support of Mindanao Convergence of NGOs for Social Protection (MinConSP).

BTC Commissioner Lawyer Raissa Jajurie invited as resource person explained to the participating leaders that the proposed BTC version of BBL under HB 4994 in comparison with the House Bill 5811 and pointed out the provisions in the said bill that violates the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Jajurie said the BBL is a basic law and an agreement between the Parties, the government and the MILF, that is described as a social justice legislation that seeks to address the Bangsamoro question.

“That the HB 4994/BBL is the product of more than 17 years of peace negotiations between the GPH and the MILF,” she said, “and most of the provisions of the original draft BBL were lifted verbatim from the CAB”, she added.

The resource person pointed out that the “BBL was drafted within the framework and flexibilities of the Constitution.”

The CSO leaders representing grassroots communities presented their respective positions.
The Mindanao Convergence of NGOs for Social Protection appealed to members of Congress to immediately pass HB4994 based on CAB to finally address the legitimate grievances, and correct historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro.
The Bait-Al Iman Association asked the Congress not to change what are stipulated in the original draft of BBL produced by the BTC considering it was crafted based on the grievances of the Bangsamoro and the current issues and concerns affecting the Bangsamoro communities.

By: Ebs Sandigan

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CBCS EXPANDED MEETING

CBCS ORGANIZED LOBBY GROUPS TO CONGRESS ON BBL

Posted on 10 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) expanded its regular monthly meeting <!–more–>, instead of the traditional Regular Staff included leaders of their network organization members. The Meeting was conducted on August 5 – 6, 2015 with forty-four attendance held at KFI convention Hall, Cotabato City.

CBCS Regular Staff with the Leaders of their network members during the  meeting proper

CBCS Regular Staff with the Leaders of their network members during the meeting proper

The expanded meeting was triggered by the recent status of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which the civil society organization (CSOs) faithfully supported and accompanied during crafting period and enactment of and is now under the hands of two Houses of Congress. It is a known fact that after the AdHoc Committee on BBL approved its committee report on June 10, 2015; substantial changes, dilution and insertion were made to the BBL’s original text as embodied in HB 4994 and Senate Bill No.2408 as shown by the new Lower House version HB 5811 and new title Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).

The CSOs apprehension were heightened further by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s (BTC) coming up of Resolution No. 005, series of 2015 dated July 29, 2015; virtually rejecting HB 5811 or the Lower House own BBL version. The House Version as seen by legal luminaries and concerned lawyers estimated that under the new version only about 40% was left in spirit to the original BBL and finally, HB 5811 is a law “lesser than the ARMM” law which was considered by no less than President Benigno C. Aquino III as “failed experiment” and in agreed between MILF Chair AlHaj Murad Ebrahim and Presiden Aquino’s Tokyo 10 point principles that, ARMM as “Status Quo is unacceptable”. In short if the Congress tends to pass a law “lesser than ARMM Law” which is already declared by the president and the MILF as unacceptable, then there is no way HB 5811 will be acceptable to the MILF and the Bangsamoro as whole.

The consequences of having an unacceptable law and eventually will not solve one of the longest armed conflict in Asia and even in the world of which the 18 year painstaking GPH-MILF Negotiation deals with is unimaginable to the CSOs.

On the above context CBCS and the participating member-network leaders agreed to maximize their advocacy, efforts and resources in an aim to appeal to the members of the two Houses Congress; House of Representatives and House of Senate to retain the spirit of original BBL and pass a law that is in conformity with the morale-fibre of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) that was signed between GPH and MILF Panels on October 15, 2012 and March 27, 2014 respectively.

The first batch of the Lobby Group that will deal on the members of Congress for a period of one week were: (1) Atty. Almorzi Tabarasa from Tawi-Tawi (2) Allan Pisingan from Basilan (3) Prof. Octavio Dinampo from Sulu (4) Prof. Duma Mascud Al- Haj from Cotabato City and Maguindanao (5) Ustadz Yusoph Lumambas from North Cotabato (6) North Cotabato Board Member Datu Kelly Antao (7) Hasmine Faustino from Women’s Group (8) Baintan Abdula from Maguindanao (9) Dr. Annierah Usop from Cotabato City and Maida L. Kadtong from women’s group.

The advocacy group will split into two; one group will lobby in the House of Representatives and the other half will lobby to House of Senate. The group tasked for 2nd, 3rd and 4th batch are likewise identified and prepared.

By Mike Kulat

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MANIFESTO Of BANGSAMORO CIVIL SOCIETY

Posted on 04 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

We, Bangsamoro civil society organizations working in and around the Bangsamoro core territory, reiterate our support for the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). This position carefully weighed the pros and cons of the war that has been waged in our homeland for the past 40 years, a war that has taken the lives of more than 120,000 persons and cost more than PhP640B.

When the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed on March 27, 2014, we were one of the first to rejoice and imagine better days ahead for our children and children’s children. The promise of a stronger autonomy for the new political entity that will not have the same structural defects faced by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was not lost on us. We were gratified that despite an extraordinarily long process of negotiations with 3 major wars in between, the Parties have finally arrived at a mutually acceptable formula for moving forward.

Optimism aside, as development-oriented groups working in grassroots communities, we know that the problems that beset the Bangsamoro are complex, and that it would take decades before we are able to rise from the bottom where we find ourselves in. It will take a strong leadership in the Bangsamorowith broad understanding of the people’s needs, well-thought out development planning, progressive and equitable socio-economic policies, a professional corps in its bureaucracy, and internal (values) transformation, among others, to get us to a better place.

But to get there, we need to establish the Bangsamoro first, by way of a law to be passed by Congress. It is tragic and unfortunate that much of the objections posed against HB 4994 and SB 2408 are not really about issues of constitutionality, but of prejudice and mistrust. Mamasapano triggered the spiraling down of a rational discourse in Congress on the Bangsamoro, but the deep-seated bigotry, parochial interests, the upcoming election, and other political agenda, have become the drivers of the debates, deliberations and decisions being made on our future.

The Bangsamoro are the native inhabitants of the unconquered lands in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, that were illegitimately annexed to what is now the Philippines, when Spain succumbed to America in 1898. Such act of annexation was without any plebiscitary consent of the people who had proudly governed themselves before and throughout the more than 300 years of Spanish colonization over the rest of what is now the Philippines. In succeeding periods, the lands of the Bangsamoro and other native inhabitants were taken over through state-sponsored migration, which had left them marginalized and minoritized. The prejudice against and intolerance for people who are different have deprived many of us of employment, housing, education, and other socio-economic and political opportunities.

When the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and later, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), entered into peace negotiations with the Philippine Government, we were buoyed by hope that the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro would finally be addressed. We know that without a peace agreement, we do not have any leverage in the Philippine legal structure and processes, where we do not occupy any influential position. We thus put our full support for the peace process, and accompanied the Parties in various ways— by raising the people’s awareness, monitoring the ceasefire, putting public pressure when talks got stalled, and providing humanitarian protection to civilians who get displaced when the ceasefire do not hold. We did this because we believe that negotiating peace, rather than waging war, is the better track. Hence, when the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed last year, we thought we had already hurdled a major step in peace-building and peace-making. Our aspirations as Bangsamoro people had finally been heard by the Philippine government, and we now needed to translate this political agreement into a legal document.

But now, we are gravely concerned that the draft legal document that had been meticulously crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and agreed upon with the Office of the President is now substituted with another version [HB 5811] that is contrary to the CAB. Specific concerns include, among others, the following:

  • Reducing the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro over natural resources within its territory, by expanding the exception to such   exclusive     power to minerals other than fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) and uranium, and putting these “strategic minerals” and “all other potential sources of energy” under the reserved power of the Central Government, and not concurrent powers of Central and Bangsamoro Governments
  • Taking away the exclusive power of the Bangsamoro to declare protected areas inside the Bangsamoro
  • Denying contiguous municipalities, barangays, and geographical areas from petitioning to be included in the first plebiscite
  • Limiting the subsequent plebiscites for joining the Bangsamoro to only 2 times within 10 years, and only for areas that are within the area of autonomy under the Tripoli Agreement
  • Transferring the ancestral domain/indigenous people’ protection from the list of exclusive powers to that of concurrent powers
  • Adding items in the reserved powers such as banking, powers of the ombudsman, all others powers not provided in the basic law
  • Making amendments that make internal security a reserved power, rather than a concurrent power
  • Taking out “parity of esteem” which is an important principle in the Agreement and in the BBL
  • Limiting the powers of the Bangsamoro over the matter of budgeting as well as auditing
  • Deleting the provisions regarding the Wali as the ceremonial head of the Bangsamoro
  • Making national laws [such as the Labor Code and the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act] effective in the Bangsamoro even when these laws are over subject matters that are within the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro
  • Limiting the power of the Bangsamoro to creating only municipalities and barangays [to the exclusion of cities and provinces]
  • Changing the nomenclature—from “Bangsamoro” to “Bangsamoro Autonomous Region”; from “territory” to “area,” from “Central Government“ to “National Government”—thereby changing the framework and certain key principles already agreed upon by the Parties
  • Changing “national transmission grid” to the Mindanao Grid” in relation to concurrence of powers over power generation, transmission and distribution
  • Putting the Bangsamoro offices on human rights and civil service under the supervision of national counterparts
  • Limiting tax incentives to only those that are within the taxing powers of the Bangsamoro
  • Taking away properties of the ARMM and SPDA located outside of the territory of the Bangsamoro and transferring them to the local government units, even when this is not contemplated in the CAB
  • Providing that the power to contract loans shall be “subject to the Constitution”, which can be interpreted to mean that only the President can enter into foreign loans, and which violates the agreement regarding the Bangsamoro power to contract loans save for those requiring sovereign guaranty
  • Transferring the ARMM payables to the Bangsamoro,

In addition, there are provisions that reduce the existing autonomy, as provided in the Organic Acts of the ARMM, by way of the following:

  • Requiring that receiving of grants and donations need to be approved by Central Government
  • Taking out the option for the President to create a Bangsamoro Command in the Armed Forces
  • Downgrading the participation of the Bangsamoro in the governing boards of state universities and colleges to mere membership, instead of being the Co-Chair or Co-Vice-Chair
  • Not requiring corporations with branch operations in the Bangsamoro to pay taxes therein when the majority income of such corporations come from someplace else
  • Requiring that the law that can be enacted by the Bangsamoro Parliament over the Bangsamoro Police shall not only be in accordance with the Basic Law, but also with Constitution, national laws, and issuances of the NAPOLCOM, thereby extremely limiting the legislative power of the Parliament over the Bangsamoro Police.

All these amendments render the Bangsamoro less autonomous than the ARMM, and will not address the legitimate grievances and correct the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro.

House Bill 4994/ Senate Bill 2408are not like any other proposed legislative measure, as these are borne out of a process that had been meticulously undertaken by the Government and a non-state armed group desiring to end one of the longest-running conflicts in the world. The bills also contain our aspirations, and are supposed to be a testament to the commitment of both GPH and the MILF that they will fulfill their sacred obligation as signatories to a peace agreement.

We ask the members of Congress to rise above themselves and heed the higher interest of peace. We appeal to them to pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is faithful to the CAB, and to further strengthen autonomy that will not fail in providing a better future to the people in the Bangsamoro.

Pass HB 4994/ SB 2408 into law!

Signed,

Name Organization Signature

By CBCS Secretariat

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CSO Forum on BLBAR for Western Mindanao

CSO FORUM AND REFLECTION ON THE NEW BLBAR

Posted on 04 August 2015 by cbcs_mike

Forty four civil society organization (CSOs) leaders converged in a one-day forum <!–more–> aimed at a deeper understanding of the new version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law called Basic Law of the Bangsamoro (BL-BAR) sponsored by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) . The participants came from different provinces of south-western Mindanao particularly from Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga-Sibugay, Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi which was held at Camila Hotel in Pagdian City on June 29, 2015.

A souvenir Photo of the CSO Leaders from Western Mindanao

A souvenir Photo of the CSO Leaders from Western Mindanao

The forum was triggered by the recent controversial developments on the much-talked envisioned Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) being result of the 17 years peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberations Front (MILF). The growing concerns among the CSOs was heightened after the 75-Man AdHoc Committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law in the House of Representatives done approving a new version of the original BBL draft that dramatically alter its content in letter and spirit. In fact the original BBL version as certified urgent by the President was embodied in House of Representative’s HB 4994 and House of Senate SB 2408 with a title “Bangsamoro Basic Law” (BBL) and is now changed into HB 5811 with a title “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” (BL-BAR).

In his message and overview of the forum, CBCS Chairperson Guiamel Alim gave a brief historical background of the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination and self-governance including its dynamics that started for clamour for independent but recently agreed to settle under autonomous arrangements. However, even BBL that defines autonomous status of the Bangsamoro are passing through tight “bottlenecks” that posed possibilities of having a mangled BBL and unacceptable to the Bangsamoro as well.

The highlight of the Forum was the input from BTC Commissioner Atty. Raissa Jajurie who comprehensively pointed out major points and provisions of the BBL that are changed, inserted or deleted in the new BL-BAR. Atty Jajurie started presenting of the changes aside from the title and bill number, preceded with the changes in the Preamble down to the last article.
More importantly, the resource person was able to stress the importance of each provision changed, deleted or insertion made coupled with the corresponding immediate implications to the original BBL and its long time effect to the lives of the Bangsamoro as a whole was explicitly explained to the participants.

Through the open forum, the group was able to level-off on making a motherhood statement as their general guide of each individual or group advocacy in their own respective areas of coverage. The clear and unified advocacy that will be carried by the clustered CSOs in their respective districts in many parts of western Mindanao areas was identified.

The learning and acquired knowledge in the forum as well as the agreed strategies will be used by the participating CSO leaders as bases in formulating letters, position papers or resolutions in an aim to influence the public, the media especially the members of the Congress to pass a law that is in conformity with signed agreements on Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) on October 15, 2012 and March 27, 2014 respectively.

By Mike Kulat

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