John Unson | Institute for Autonomy and Governance (via NDBC News)
COTABATO CITY -- Senators Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Teofisto “TG” Guingona on Wednesday assured to raise in the Senate the views and sentiments of local stakeholders on the contents of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Marcos and Guingona, chairs of Senate’s committee on local governments, and committee on peace, reconciliation and reunification, respectively, presided over at the campus of the Notre Dame University (NDU) here a consultation on the draft BBL.
The draft BBL aims to establish a Bangsamoro government that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) based on the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, the final peace accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Among the issues raised by participants to the dialogue were the protection and right to separation benefits of thousands of ARMM career service personnel, whose offices can be deactivated once the draft BBL is enacted into law and ratified via a plebiscite, and many thorny political and land ownership concerns.
Most of the security problems in the ARMM and other Moro-dominated areas in surrounding administrative regions are rooted in territorial disputes and squabbles for ownership of lands involving Moro, Christian and non-Islamic indigenous hinterland groups.
Guingona had told reporters the draft BBL might possibly be enacted into law by first quarter of 2015.
Also tackled in the dialogue is the plight of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a peace pact with government on September 2, 1996 through the efforts of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The OIC is a block of more than 50 Muslim countries, including petroleum-exporting states in the Middle East and North Africa. Marcos said he feels the need to consult Nur Misuari, founder of MNLF, on the draft BBL too.
The consultation at the gymnasium of NDU, owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, was attended by leaders of the Muslim, Christian and lumad communities, and representatives from local civil society organizations.
Former Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Simeon Datumanong, who spoke in the gathering, said Senate must also review the contents of the now 17-year government-MNLF peace agreement, in relation to the enactment of BBL, to ensure sectoral inclusivity of the proposed Bangsamoro government.
“This peace process already spanned six Philippine presidents, starting in 1973, so this is a very serious initiative. This will be a good legacy by the government,” said Datumanong.
Datumanong, as government negotiator, helped draft the government-MNLF “Tripoli Agreement,” signed on December 23, 1976 in the Libyan capital Tripoli. The pact was to become the reference in the crafting of the final GPH-MNLF truce.
He said Congress should focus attention on the MNLF’s assertion of having been left out in the national government’s separate dealing with the MILF.
The forum was also attended by North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, Maguindanao’s appointed deputy governor, Ramil Dilangalen, and ARMM officials led by Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman and Regional Deputy Executive Secretary Rasol Mitmug, Jr.
Guingona said the activity was more of a “feedback process,” meant to gather inputs that they can use as points for discussions when they deliberate on the draft BBL.
“We came here to listen, listen to the people,” he said.