‘Bangsamoro Enabling Law first, federalism follows’: Moro Women leaders

With a conviction that establishing the envisioned autonomous government would address the Bangsamoro issues, 32 Moro women leaders urged the Philippine government to pass the Bangsamoro Enabling Law (BEL) first before the state will be shifting into federalism.

The women leaders coming from different regions of Mindanao which comprise the Women Organization Movement in the Bangsamoro (WOMB) gathered in General Santos City from April 8 to 9 to participate in a workshop aimed to draw up a one-year strategic plan related to WOMB’s advocacy on the proposed Bangsamoro law.

The activity, supported by The Asia Foundation, provided an avenue to the delegates to assess the strengths and opportunities of WOMB in legislative lobby and advocacy works, as well as share updates from the different communities where they came from.

The participants brainstormed on how they can effectively advocate to the public, particularly to the lawmakers, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The passage of BBL, now called BEL, is stipulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

If passed by the Philippine Congress and ratified through a plebiscite, the enabling law will pave the way for the establishment of Bangsamoro autonomous region with more fiscal and political powers.

In the 16th Congress under the previous administration, the lawmakers failed to pass the BBL which was drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

In the roadmap to peace of the Duterte Administration, two tracks are being pursued to address the Bangsamoro question; the passage of Bangsamoro enabling law by Philippine Congress and shifting to federalism which requires amendment of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

At present, the BEL is being drafted by the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). There are representatives from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the BTC who would work for the inclusion of the provisions of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine Government and the MNLF.

The women leaders agreed they will strengthen advocacy and solidarity and pitch the call for support to the passage of the Bangsamoro law through fora, focus groups discussions, peace rally, peace campaign and other peace advocacy initiatives.

They also saw the need to promote the beauty of Islam and share the Bangsamoro history to the public.

Patricia M. B. Ruivar from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process gave updates on the Bangsamoro Peace Process and Peace Tables. Professor Raby Angkal shared the highlights of the Bangsamoro struggle and the peace process.

Ustadza Pindaulan Balambag gave lecture on Islamic Ibadah and Values Transformation and Personal Values Clarification. She was joined by Ustadza Jihan Batiting who gave inputs on The Role of Faith in Developing Islamic Values.

Noraida Chiu, the lead convener, urged fellow Moro women leaders to help one another and maximise their efforts for the success of their endeavours that would be their “gift for the Bangsamoro people."