North Cotabato multi-sectoral leaders hold Peace forum In Kabacan town

Oppressed and marginalized people long, and crave for peace nowadays. It is everybody’s concern especially with the emergence of violent extremism in almost all parts of the world. This is the very reason why the North Cotabato Coalition of Organizations (NCCO) in partnership with the Women Organizations Movement of Bangsamoro (WOMB) initiated the multi sectoral leaders’ peace forum last January 6, 2017, at Cafe Martina, University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, North Cotabato.

The attendees were leaders of civil society groups, and tri-people (Muslim, Christian and Lumads) who are supporting the passage of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)- Compliant Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). 

The most awaited passage of the Bangsamoro Law is causing enthusiasms among stakeholders in Mindanao as it is seen to be the ultimate solution to the Bangsamoro Problem or Question. 

Commissioner Susana Anayatin, and Commissioner Atty. Raisa Jajurie graced the forum and enlightened the participants of what BBL is all about, and what benefit they can gain when the said law is enacted.  

Manny Pidtamanan, Municipal Councilor of Kabacan delivered the opening, and welcome remarks. He said that he is supportive to whatever endeavors the civil society groups undertake to maintain, and strengthen peace and order situation in Kabacan, and in promoting unity among the people of North Cotabato.

Mr. Tahir Solaiman, Spokeperson of the NCCO gave the rationale of the activity.  He explained the reasons why the said forum was organized. 

North Cotabato Board member Mohammad “Kelly” Antao in his message described extremism as a threat to all. It is a devilish act through spreading false interpretation of the Noble Qur’an, not only in North Cotabato but the whole pf Mindanao. 

He encouraged the people to resist, and fight violent extremism.  Antao also expressed his strong belief that the enactment of the BBL is the antidote to violent extremism. 

Before ending his message, he conveyed the message of Governor Lala Talino Mendoza that she is in support of activities that will strengthen peace, and order in the province of North Cotabato.

BTC Commissioner Dr. Susana Anayatin started her presentation with a video clip of Bangsamoro History to deepened the understanding of the participants on the root cause of Bangsamoro conflict. In the said video presentation, Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI-DD explained the three (3) injustices committed to Bangsamoro such as: injustice to Moro identity, Injustice to Moro political entity, and injustice to their integral development.  

Solution to the problem of Mindanao is anchored on the deep understanding of the root causes of the Bangsamoro conflict, Cardinal Quevedo stressed in the video clip. 

The remarkable statements from the video presentation are the following “Mindanao Problem is A Philippine Problem Affecting all Filipinos” and the statement of the MILF chairman; “BBL is not a government of the MILF but a government of people” The finale of the video clip is the pronouncement of His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that says “Nothing can appease the Moro people except the passage of BBL”.

Commissioner Anayatin discussed what BBL is all about. A Bangsamoro Law when enacted will implement the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).  The BBL is the culmination of the 17 long years of peaceful negotiation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH,) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). 

The CAB, being the finality of all agreements such as the Tripoli Agreement, FAB and Moa-Ad is the solution to the long standing sufferings of the Bangsamoro people, and will address all the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people. 

Commissioner Anayatin also delved on the contents of the BBL article by article, and all its provisions. 

After her presentation, Duma Mascud, Chairman of the #SignBBL presented the members of their group, and gave an update of what they have achieved during their lobby in the Senate and House of Representatives.

The #SIGNNewBBL stands for “Sustainable Initiatives for Grassroots and Networks of New Bangsamoro Basic Law” Its members coalition of coalition were the Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP), Federation of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations (FBCSO), Peoples Coalition of ARMM for Reform and Transformation (P-CART), League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), Maguindanao Networks Organization (MAGNETO), Community Organizers Multiversity (CO MULTIVERSITY) Women Organization for Movement of Bangsamoro (WOMB), Confederation Descendant Organizations of Rajah  Mamalu (C-DORM), Federation of United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women (FUMBW), Maksuj Network of Sulu (MAKSUJ) ,Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), Coalition of Moro Youth Movement (CMYM), Tawi-Tawi Alliance of Civil Society Organizations (TACOS).

BTC commissioner, Atty Raisa Jajurie lectured on combating violent extremism. According to her the root cause of the conflict is very much similar to the root cause of violent extremism, and since all the root causes of the conflicts were already addressed in the BBL, the BBL therefore is the solution to combat radicalism and violent extremism.

Comm. Jajurie also explained the status of the 39 barangays in North Cotabato being part of the proposed Bangsamoro Region mentioned in the BBL. 

In the open forum attendees from barangays, and municipalities of North Cotabato such as Pigcawayan, Midsayap, and Pikit expressed their support for the immediate passage of the BBL. 

The open forum was moderated, and facilitated by Ms. Acremah M. Balayanan, and Mr. Mohaliden Balayanan assisted by Dr. Norquez M. Mangidra who also served as EMCEE.

The last part of the program was the reading of the manifesto of the NCCO by Noraida Datumanong, Directress of the Protection Education and Health for Women, and Children (PEHMWAC) in support to the immediate passage of a CAB-Compliant BBL.

More than two hundred individuals from different organizations spearheaded by Cotabato Alliance of Moro Concern, Inc.(CAMCI) based in North Cotabato attended the forum.