An open letter to Pres. Aquino on the Bangsamoro Basic Law PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 26 July 2014 13:28

Dear President Aquino,

Kalinaw!

When you assumed the Presidency four years ago, we imbibed high hopes that the peacemaking effort for Mindanao would finally lead to a lasting solution to the decades-long Moro rebellion. Admittedly, it was quite a heavy expectation we placed on your leadership but we thought the peoples of Mindanao—having borne the ill-effects of war—deserve no less.

A clear articulation of your peace policy contained in your Social Contract with the Filipino People lifted our spirits and cemented our trust in your sincerity. It stated: “From a disjointed, short-sighted Mindanao policy that merely reacts to events and incidents to one that seeks a broadly supported just peace and will redress decades of neglect of the Moro and other peoples of Mindanao.”

While there was uproar against your decision to hold a meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo in 2010, we swam against that tide and gave it our strong approval, knowing it would spell the big difference in conveying your honest intentions in the peace negotiations.

True enough, the trust you established with the MILF hastened negotiations for a political settlement to the conflict that underpinned the Moro rebellion. Like the rest of the country and the world, we applauded with you when the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed in MalacaÆang Palace on March 27, 2014. It was a momentous day for Mindanao. From adversaries, government and the MILF have, then on, become partners.

But events surrounding the writing of a Bangsamoro Basic Law confuse the hopeful atmosphere created by the forging of the CAB last March. We are worried that if the current situation persists, it will endanger the viability of the peace roadmap that the government and the MILF agreed and have committed to jointly pursue.

For the grassroots communities and peoples, peace is synonymous with development. Hence, any more delay in implementing the peace roadmap would mean consigning the lives of millions of peoples in conflict-affected communities in Mindanao to lingering underdevelopment and constant political uncertainties.

Consistency with the Constitution is the current bone of contention with the Basic Law as drafted by the Transition Commission you created to do the task, and as reviewed by your legal team. It is just worrisome that the matter has been reduced to whether accepting the BTC draft in its entirety or accepting the recommended modifications of your legal team.

We urge both panels and the BTC to complete the BBL with a thorough Constitutional test or transparent review with experts of the 1987 Constitution to make BBL’s endorsement, as a priority bill to congress, really possible.

We are likewise concerned about the time constraints.

The Lanao Peace Partnership, composed of five non-government organizations working in Lanao areas, has been involved in public consultations in Lanao areas, the result of which were submitted to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission as inputs in the drafting of Bangsamoro Basic Law. We viewed this as our contribution in democratizing the peace process by engaging the people and we look forward to see the result too.

We have always valued the creativity of the peace negotiators in formulating the text of the CAB; it is about time to employ the same in this crucial phase of the process.

We look forward to your endorsement of the Basic Law before Congress when you deliver your State of the Nation Address on July 28.

We believe that with determined leadership, your administration is well on its way to making peace in Mindanao a lasting legacy for the Filipino people.

Sincerely,

Pailig Foundation Inc.

https://www.pailig.webs.com/

MSU-IIT- Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao

http://www.msuiit.edu.ph/ipdm/

EcoWeb Inc.

https://www.ecoweb.ph/

Kapamagogopa Inc.

https://ki-volunteer.org/

Civil Society Organization Forum for Peace Inc.

kalinawsalanao@yahoo.com.ph

The Lanao Peace Partnership can be contacted at 0906-878-3090 or 0942-158-4585