Zamboanga City Moro community leaders hold FGD on BBL

TULUNGATUNG, ZAMBOANGA CITY, June 20. 2018 - Bangsamoro Community leaders convened and discussed the fate of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) after both House of Congress passed HB 6475 and SB 1717, the law that would create the proposed Bangsamoro Region last May 30, 2018.

Moro Community leaders in this part of Zamboanga City are holding their regular meeting every weekend to tackle essential issues pertaining to the BBL. 

The centerpiece of their discussion is the BBL Substitute Bill (House and Senate versions) wondering why substantial provisions of BBL drafted by Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that conformed with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) were deliberately deleted or amended by both Houses of Congress.

The BBL versions passed by congress are widely perceived by various Bangsamoro sectors as diluted, and/or watered- down BBL since its originality was substituted. 

One of the many amended provisions that caught the attention of the Moro community leaders living outside the Bangsamoro Core Territory is the Opt-In Provision that is provided in the CAB, and BTC Draft BBL that was replaced to a single plebiscite simultaneously with the ratification of the BBL, instead of a periodical plebiscite. 

“Holding a single plebiscite is impractical and limits the freedom of constituents living in contiguous areas to decide for their inclusion. This is not all about the so-called creeping expansion which some lawmakers argued but another form of injustice to Bangsamoro since our freedom to join is constricted and it is a violation of the signed peace agreements,” Bapa Alex said. 

Brother Tim, a Peace Advocate said any versions of BBL that are not reflective of the Bangsamoro aspiration are not acceptable and will not solve the Mindanao problem. Instead, a CAB-compliant BBL as stipulated in the BTC-draft BBL should be passed. Giving us a powerless autonomy is not an autonomy by itself. The lawmakers can enhance it but not downgrading its substantial provisions under the pretext of adhering to the constitution.

“We know that the BBL is in its critical stage but we have to be more patient, and wait for the final outcome of Bicameral Conference. We have given our full trust to the BTC, and to leadership of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hoping that those deleted provisions can be restored so that it will be acceptable to us Bangsamoro, and to other peace loving people” Imam Akub said. 

Imam Omar, a Community Da’wah leader said. “The Bangsamoro Struggle will be a lifetime struggle unless the historical injustices committed to the Moro people are corrected we the hope that a CAB-Compliant BBL will be passed and implemented for the realization Bangsamoro aspiration”. 

In the course of discussion, the Moro Folks agreed on the premise of commonality that everyone should wait for the formal, and decision of BTC, and the MILF Leadership, and the Bangsamoro in general after the Bicameral Conference scheduled on July 9-13,  and hoping for the restoration of deleted BBL provisions.

The half-day FGD was facilitated by an Officer from Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) to get valuable inputs from the Bangsamoro grassroots by threshing out some BBL salient provisions, correcting misconceptions and providing updates on the current status of BBL.