Bangsamoro Transition Commission calls for Dialogue-Consultation with CSO leaders

Cotabato City - The Office of Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar has called for a dialogue- consultation with leaders of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Central and other parts of Mindanao on Saturday, May 6 at Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The program was facilitated by a committee on CSO’s of the Office of the BTC Chairman headed by Duma Mascud and his Chief of Staff Prof. Raby Angkal.

Hundreds of CSOs have participated in the program mostly came from members of League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), Mindanao Alliance of Peace (MAO) together with other NGOs and CSOs.

Angkal said that the role of Bangsamoro CSOs in pushing for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is based on the compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is invaluable. 

He recognized the efforts of peace allies like the church for their initiatives in conducting activities such as the conducted torch for peace, children for peace, run for peace, peace caravan, the lobbying mission in congress, among other activities for peace’ 

"We exerted much of our efforts during the past administration and all of those things didn't succeed, BBL was never passed. I think we must think other ways and for this we need to consolidate our strengths," Angkal said.

He said that there is a need to help push the BBL for its approval by the 17th Philippine Congress. "This law aims to achieve dignified peace, justice, security, progress and development...and this could be stopped the sufferings of the people", he said further.

As to the tentative timeline of submission of the draft Bangsaamoro Law to the Office of the President, Angkal said that an all-Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly shall be held first in the last week of May, this year, while the target date for submission of the draft law is early June 2017.

The commissioners that were present during the dialogue were Dra. Susana Anayatin, Atty. Datu Omar Yasser Sema, and Timuay Melanio Ulama, and Romeo Saliga, both are representing the indigenous peoples in the BTC.

Meanwhile, Anayatin emphasized the importance of the consultation. "You can now register here what you want to include in the BBL".

Ulama has recalled the challenges in the GPH-MILF peace process during the negotiations, the fate of Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that was declared by the Philippine Supreme Court as unconstitutional which eventually resulted to armed skirmishes between the government forces and MILF guerillas. 

He said, only you CSOs can look for other alternatives to stop the war and end the sufferings of IDPs, can call for immediate ceasefire and for the resumption of peace talks.

"Isa kayo sa bayani dito sa kapayapaan, kayo ang aming lakas, kumukuha kami ng lakas sa inyo," (You are the heroes of the peace process, you are our strength, we obtain our energy from you), said Ulama.

Commissioner Saliga told before the participants that, on the other way around, the CSOs could be big heroes of the peace process but could also be a hindrance.

He said that the current expanded BTC is working for the common good of Bangsamoro people. "This will be our legacy to newly-born babies and for the next generation," he said. 

Saliga have also recognized the efforts of LBO-member organization United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) as a good example for their peace initiatives in facilitating settlement of ‘rido’ in the region.

Talking about CSOs in the Bangsamoro Homeland, Atty. Sema said "We’re still intact and united because of one driving idea that is to help establish the Bangsamoro government. BM government must be established, thus will be the template for future federal system of the country", Sema said. “It shall become the pattern of congress in crafting laws for federated states”, Sema stressed.

"We must maximize the BTC, all things that we can plea, we will ask," he said. 

Sema has common stand with fellow Moros and promised that once the government will offer a government for the Bangsamoro lower that the ARMM, it never be acceptable.

BTC Chair Jaafar however reiterated that Bangsamoro wants self-rule, not the ‘equipment’ that has been offered to the MILF”. Jaafar was referring to farm equipment distributed to farmers in MILF formers controlled camps".

 “All we want is the establishment of our own government. See, if we have our government we can make our own tractors," he said.

Some issues raised by CSOs during the dialogue were the Moro land acquisition in the present state laws; the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), landless farmers, mining/environment, inclusive education, youth and women-child rights, and other concerns.