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

Posted on 04 November 2016 by cbcs_mike

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

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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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