06 March 2016, Philippine Congress — Twenty-five leaders of the “All-Out Peace” Network, a broad alliance of peace movements in the Philippines, engaged the Joint Committees on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a public hearing at the House of Representatives. Gus Miclat, Executive Director of Initiatives for International Dialogue and also the team’s overall spokesperson, read the network’s position paper before the concerned lawmakers.
Miclat emphasized that “the BBL is vital for the peaceful and democratic future of Mindanao, its peoples, and our nation as a whole.” Although the All-Out Peace Network recognizes that “the BBL is definitely not the be-all and end-all solution to all the conflicts happening in Mindanao… this is a potential instrument which could help facilitate genuine peace and social progress in the south.” Miclat reiterated that the BBL, borne out of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), “embodies and recognizes the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and prosperity, and allow for meaningful self-governance.”
Lakan Sumulong of PeaceBuilders Community, in a text message, affirmed the statement by the All-Out Peace Network. He said, “I believe the statement resonates with the hearts and minds of the representatives from Marawi, from the Bangsamoro, and from the Indigenous Peoples who travelled with us to this national legislative center.”
Gus Miclat also articulated the network’s support for House Bill 5669, “An Act establishing a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro,” which we believe would help in promoting justice, healing, and reconciliation. “A transitional justice and reconciliation framework is key in addressing the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro and all other inhabitants of Mindanao that continue to haunt the Southern region and its peoples up to this day,” Miclat said. “In fact,” he continued, “we believe that passing the BBL without a transitional justice and reconciliation perspective and enabling mechanisms to address the roots of this decades-old conflict… will remain incomplete and elusive.”
A number of our representatives were also seeking audience before the legislators. Seven more representatives of various war-devastated areas in Mindanao sought to share their hearts and minds. But they were not given a chance to speak before those whom they have elected due to “time constraints”. One of them was Samira Gutoc Tomawis. Here, she expressed her heart to the legislators:
After the group’s presentation both in the House of Representatives and the House of Senate, the team gathered for a strategy workshop on how we can shift our peacebuilding gears with the fast-changing sociopolitical dynamics in the country. They started sharing their fears and hopes as ground workers from various armed-conflicted areas in Mindanao.