Just before lunch today, 11 July 2018, key leaders from various civil society organizations met at Freedom Park in front of Ateneo de Davao University. They are a part of a national movement called All-Out Peace Network. This synchronized citizen action was done to symbolically pass an inclusive Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). This action was done simultaneously in the City of Manila, Cagayan de Oro City, and Iligan City.
Meant to reverberate the mass actions in Manila this week, this advocacy pitch urges the bicameral conference and the bigger Filipino public to finally support genuine autonomy for the Bangsamoro and the peoples in this region.
Lakan Sumulong of PeaceBuilders Community read the official statement by the All-Out Peace Network.
An Open Letter for the members of the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law
Granting meaningful autonomy for the Bangsamoro through BBL is key in achieving just peace and social justice in Mindanao
Dear Esteemed Members of the Bicameral Committee on the BBL:
House of Representatives
Rodolfo Fariñas, Majority Leader (Ilocos Norte 1st District)
Bai Sandra Sema, Deputy Speaker (Maguindanao 1st District)
Pedro Acharon Jr (South Cotabato 1st District)
Mauyag Papandayan Jr (Lanao del Sur 2nd District)
Ruby Sahali (Tawi-Tawi)
Juan Pablo Bondoc (Pampanga 4th District)
Arthur Defensor Jr (Iloilo 3rd District)
Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur 2nd District)
Eugene de Vera (Arts Business and Science Professionals)
Rodolfo Albano III (Isabela 1st District)
Amihilda Sangcopan (Anak Mindanao)
Wilter Wee Palma II (Zamboanga Sibugay 1st District)
Celso Lobregat (Zamboanga City 1st District)
Mohamad Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte 1st District)
Abdullah Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte 2nd District)
Romeo Acop (Antipolo 2nd District)
Seth Frederick Jalosjos (Zamboanga del Norte 1st District)
Shernee Abubakar Tan (KUSUG TAUSUG)
Rodante Marcoleta (1-SAGIP)
Senate of the Philippines
Juan Miguel Zubiri, Majority Leader
Juan Edgardo Angara
Aquilino Pimentel III
We, members, partners and allies of the All-Out Peace (AOP), together with kindred partners in the broad civil society and peace movement in the Philippines, respectfully submit this open letter for your considerations. We reiterate our unrelenting support to all principled and meaningful solutions which seek to address the Bangsamoro question and resolve the decades-old Mindanao conflict.
All-Out Peace is a network and convergence of various peace and civil society organizations based in Mindanao and Manila. A staunch supporter of the BBL, AOP was born in 2015 at the height of the infamous Mamasapano incident, basically to offer alternatives to an all-out war narrative during the period.
We are submitting this open letter to urgently remind our lawmakers not only of the necessity of passing a BBL, but of the utmost importance to enact a kind of BBL that substantially reflects and recognizes the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples, and all other inhabitants of Mindanao of their inherent right to self-determination and self-governance. Denying them their inalienable right to chart their own political destiny and govern themselves as a people in accordance with their distinct cultural identities, beliefs and traditions is to also deny an opportunity for the whole nation to once and for all heal the wounds of violent conflict and achieve genuine peace.
Your Honors, for numerous decades, our beloved country and its people have witnessed the exceptional savagery of armed conflict in Mindanao. The results were equally vicious: from the unending cycle of multiple displacement by hapless communities to depleting our nation’s coffers with succeeding governments spending more on wars than basic social services. In all these battles, the most marginalized and vulnerable especially our women, children and the elderly, were made to endure the profound and unceasing pains of conflicts they never wished to be part of.
AOP believes that the BBL, if enacted according to its intent and purpose, would finally unlock a smooth sailing peace process and social progress in the south. A product of a long-drawn peace negotiation, it also serves as a ‘justice instrument’, which can help in correcting historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people, the indigenous peoples, and other inhabitants of Mindanao–injustices that continue to haunt them up to this day.
However, Your Honors, we are concerned with the unfortunate outcome of the recent deliberation of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines on the BBL (HB No. 6475 and SB No. 1717). We are seriously worried of the ‘possible enactment of a watered-down BBL’ that will not fully realize the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants of Mindanao. For us, a diluted BBL could trigger more problems than provide solutions to the Bangsamoro question. If our lawmakers act as peace architects through the legislative process, they should know that they cannot build peace in Mindanao by having a substandard BBL.
It is in this context that we humbly urge the government, particularly members of this Bicameral Conference Committee, to once and for all do what is right and deliver the kind of BBL that reflects the core principles of previous and current peace negotiations to the Bangsamoro.
We remain hopeful that when the bicameral conference committee starts to reconcile the two versions of the BBL this week, significant provisions of the original BBL draft will be restored. The status quo of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), at this point, is clearly insufficient to address the Bangsamoro problem. It is therefore unacceptable to enact a new law that is dramatically less than what is already available.
We urge all members of the Bicameral Conference Committee to be the authors of real change, justice and genuine peace in the land. In particular, we appeal to your collective wisdom to consider the following demands:
- Enact a BBL that is consistent and compliant with the spirit, vision and principles of previously agreed peace agreements such as the FAB and CAB;
- Entrench in the BBL meaningful autonomy and right to self-rule of the Bangsamoro based on their distinct cultural identities, historical struggle, faiths, heritage and traditions;
- Enact a BBL that creates a new and more powerful Bangsamoro region. Retain rights and powers already being enjoyed by the Bangsamoro under ARMM;
- Grant genuine and efficient fiscal autonomy for the Bangsamoro;
- Provide the Bangsamoro effective management and control over and benefits of the natural resources in the Bangsamoro territory;
- Full inclusion of the Indigenous Peoples rights in the BBL to ensure the recognition and protection of their rights and to correct historical marginalization and exclusion;
- Realize a transitional justice and reconciliation program for the Bangsamoro. Heed previous recommendations to establish a Transitional Justice and Reconcilation Commission for the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB) that shall among others ensure and promote justice, healing and reconciliation.
We hope that you will favorably consider these humble proposals with a noble vision to primarily enact a social justice instrument that addresses the historical root causes of the centuries-old problem in the Bangsamoro.
With our sincerest esteem,
ALL-OUT PEACE NETWORK
:: PeaceBuilders Community, Inc.
:: Coffee For Peace, Inc.
:: Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID)
:: Women Peace Collective
:: Center for Peace Education-Miriam College (CPE-Miriam College)
:: Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)
:: Mindanao Action for Peace and Development (MAPAD)
:: United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD)
:: North Cotabato Composite Team
:: Balay Rehabilitation Center
:: Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace (BCJP)
:: GZO Peace Institute
:: Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
:: Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW)