CBCS Council of Leaders Holds Meeting, Welcomes BOL with Caution

Cotabato City - This past weekend, more than 20 Council of Leaders - members of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) gathered at the KFI Convention Hall in Cotabato City to discuss future plans, make assessment of CBCS relevance and existence, how it will respond to existing situations and face current challenges in the light of recent development pertaining to the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front Peace Process (GPH-MILF). 

The participants came from Ranao, and Davao Regions, SoCSarGen, Maguindanao, Zamboanga Sibugay, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Chaired by Guiamel M. Alim, CBCS is a solidarity network of Bangsamoro NGOs and POs and other Civil Society Organizations (CSO) committed to a more sustained advocacy for Peace, Human Rights, Good Governance and Development.

It is a network that engenders cooperation, collaboration and coordination among Moro civil society organizations in facing the challenges in creating a peaceful and just society.

The Consortium was organized in February 2002 as a result of a series of consultations and fora with different Moro civil society organizations from different parts of Mindanao. 

Said CSOs identified the need for a mechanism that effectively build and enhance the capacities of Bangsamoro civil society organizations towards collective undertakings that would redound to the benefit of the Bangsamoro people

To materialize its objectives, CBCS implements series of activities in the previous years. Under the Bangsamoro Unity and Solidarity Program, CBCS conducts Peace, Human Rights and Security Consultations as a collective respond to situations as an effects of Martial Law Declaration in Mindanao. The said   program led to the formation of Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH) 

CBCS gathered at least 64 women leaders during Bangsamoro Women General Assembly in Davao City this year. As a result, statement of support to the peace process and unity was released.

On Interreligious Dialogue initiatives, CBCS facilitated the conduct of Interfaith Peace Assembly in Support to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with more than 2,000 participants held in Pagadian City last year. 

Subsequently, CBCS conducted Press Conference in Quezon City. Interfaith Statement of support to BBL was distributed to media participants.

During the Bicameral Committee Conference deliberation on BBL, CBCS organized Interfaith Lobby Team as a show of support for the immediate passage of an acceptable Bangsamoro Law.

Being a network of concerned Moro-led non-government and people’s organizations spread across Mindanao, it is dedicated to the agenda of building peace, promoting good governance, human rights and inclusive development. It also supports and works with groups and entities including government and other non-government organizations that are committed to the same agenda.  

With the signing of the new Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), CBCS issues statement of support.

In the statement, it says that the Council of Leaders of the CBCS welcomes the Bangsamoro Organic Law with caution and optimism.  As the legislative enactment that creates the new political entity with a new paradigm for peace and development in the Bangsamoro, the BOL provides us with hope that armed conflict has an end and that our right to self-determination as a people has a place in the Philippine legal framework. We are mindful though, that this law has limitations, and can even be used to deny the same right that it is supposed to have recognized in our favor.  Thus, as we welcome the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, we don’t expect that it will all be smooth sailing.  In fact, we will continue to guard against complacency, high expectations, and even fitna (or trials).  

“CBCS considers the BOL as an incremental gain of the Bangsamoro struggle for autonomy and self-governance. While the new law, yet to be ratified in a plebiscite, grants powers to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, the powers are not without limitations, foremost of which is the primacy of national laws.   Furthermore, we take with great concern the deletion and dilution of provisions found in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), a document which was arduously negotiated.  

Likewise, for the other earlier peace agreements that have not been fully implemented, are not incorporated in the Bangsamoro Organic Law.  We seriously take these infirmities in the law, and we urge the Philippine Government to find ways to comply its obligations, even as we agree to push forward with whatever is gained through the new Organic Law,” the statement said. 

“At this point, it is also important to remind everyone, including ourselves, of the upcoming challenges in the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.  This is true for the areas covered by the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where local politicians may thwart popular support for the Bangsamoro entity for their political and personal interest.  But it is even more challenging for areas outside of the existing autonomous region, as the rule on double majority would require majority vote not only in the areas for inclusion, but also in their mother units. The result of the plebiscite will determine the level of acceptability and legitimacy of the BOL, and will determine the territory to be covered by the new autonomous entity,” the statement added

“Needless to say, the big trials that lie ahead include the huge leadership challenge.  While much of what has ailed the ARMM are its structural flaws, it cannot be denied that leadership counts in the matters of adopting the appropriate and responsive development agenda and priorities.  Another challenges include inspiring honest, accountable and efficient civil service, and ensuring effective service delivery to the people in the region”. 

CBCS is convinced that the new administration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region must be given the chance and full support to prove its capacity to lead and unify the Bangsamoro in running an effective government. 

To reiterate, the real test for the Organic Law is its ability to translate the essence of the legislation into concrete actions and programs that will address the issues in governance, security and development challenges of the time. 

CBCS as a network of peace and development activists, will continue its advocacy work for good governance, responsible and shared leadership, inclusive development and more equitable distribution of economic resources, and people’s genuine participation in governance.  These advocacies are CBCS humble contribution and unwavering commitment in accompanying the peace building and development processes.  We likewise continue to push for unity and solidarity and build social cohesion, constructive engagement, and meaningful collaboration in our effort to support the new administration in introducing basic reforms and better governance in the Bangsamoro,” the statement said