‘Instituting the right formula would put closure to Moro problem’: BTC Chair

“Knowing the past on instituting the right formula in order to write a law would put closure to the centuries-old so called Moro Problem in Mindanao,” Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said during the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Report Public Launch held in Cotabato City last Tuesday (Mar 15).

“The report of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission or simply TJRC made public today is an occasion to start accepting sincerely the responsibility, accountability and moral obligation for rectification,” he said.

“Transitional Justice is truth seeking and the healing of the wounds of the past,” the BTC Chair stressed.

“Now the retelling of the Bangsamoro narrative could be painful. It’s true, but it is necessary,” he said and added, “Collective amnesia as well as denial could only lead to more injustices.” 

The report conveys the result of the study made by the TJRC through listening process sessions in more than 210 Moro, Indigenous and Settler communities in Mindanao and Sulu. 

The TJRC, an independent body, is mandated to undertake a study and to make recommendations, based on consultations and expert’s studies, with the view to promote healing and reconciliation of the different communities that have been affected by the conflict.   

Chairman Iqbal said, “The legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro, the historical injustices committed against them and all the violations made against the persons, properties, dignities and their ancestral homeland can now be completely retold on the whole Philippine nation and the world.” 

“Just like any pain it can only disappear when it is properly remedied,” Chairman Iqbal stressed.

The TCRJ came with the conclusion that there were “legitimate grievances” of the Bangsamoro people that were political, economic, social and cultural in nature during decades and there were “historical injustices” committed by the colonial governments of Spanish, American and Japanese as well as the Philippine Government.

It further concluded there were human rights violations committed against the Bangsamoro people through extrajudicial killings, rape, arbitrary arrest, and torture.

The TJRC made recommendations to address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correct historical injustices and to address human rights violations, including marginalization through land dispossession.  

Existing government and state institutions at national, regional and local levels can implement the recommendations according to TJRC.

“The publication of this report must now gradually reach the awareness of the public, be they Bangsamoro, indigenous peoples and Filipinos. Beginning today, a national concerted effort towards understanding and acceptance must commence,” Chairman Iqbal further stressed.

He said, “We have made hundreds if not thousands of steps already but our journey towards peace, towards justice, towards reconciliation is indeed a very very long journey which one Moro writer correctly depicted in a book “The Long road to peace: Inside the GPH and MILF peace process.”

The TJRC mainly recommends the creation of National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission on the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB), which shall require congressional legislation, that shall oversee the National Dealing with the Past strategy and develop specific initiatives related to historical memory, impunity, promotion of accountability and rule of law, address land dispossession and promote Healing and Reconciliation in the Bangsamoro.

“This report is a prescription to the healing wounds of the past,” Chairman Iqbal said and suggested, “Let us follow the prescription and I am confident that the hurt and pain will slowly recede with the passing of time.” 

He thanked TJRC Chair Mo Beeker, Special Envoy of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and her colleagues in the Commission namely GPH delegate Atty. Cecilia Jimenez, MILF delegate Atty, Ishak Matura, GPH alternate delegate Atty. Mohammed Al-Amin Julkipli, MILF alternate delegate Atty. Rusty Kalim, Senior Adviser Jonathan Sisson of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Senior Gender Adviser Dr. Ma. Lourdes Veneracion-Ralonza.