27July

Bangsamoro Quest for Peace Campus Tour launched in Baguio City

“What is your stand as member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission on President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to shift to Federalism, and what will happen to the MNLF Final Peace Agreement?” asked by one of the viewers of documentary film-showing on the Bangsamoro History and Struggle during the open forum Q&A, held recently at SM Cinema in Baguio City.

“President Duterte's proposal to shift to Federalism is still a long way to go. It will take time in terms of process and substance. They will still be looking and studying the different models and experiences of other countries. 

That is why we are pushing for the passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) first before shifting to federalism so that the BBL shall become a model or template for other regions if it succeeds.

The MNLF Final Peace Agreement and MILF Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro  (CAB) must stand on its own merits as agreements signed between the government and the two Moro Fronts. CAB-based BBL is already clear about the relationship between the Central Government and the would-be Bangsamoro Government especially on power and wealth sharing schemes. And to make it more substantive and powerful in terms of power and territories, some salient provisions of MNLF Final Peace Agreement shall be included into the BBL that maybe enacted by congress. 

Now, it is already ready-made to be passed and ratified, and its implementation would showcase its workability as credible reality to convince the whole country to push Federalism,” Prof. Alih Sakaluran Aiyub explained. 

This is Asia Foundation’s peace advocacy project believing that “Political Support and Confidence in Peace Negotiations: By strengthening confidence in the peace process among influential constituencies, and supporting the emergence of an ‘inclusive enough coalition’ of powerful actors who will actively support a peace agreement, the Foundation can contribute towards the outcome of the negotiations being widely accepted by the public, implemented by government, and respected by armed groups.”

This project under the UK’s Department for International Development – Program Partnership Agreement that supports the peace process in Mindanao is set to sponsor, in partnership with K.A.K. Productions, a documentary film on the Bangsamoro history and struggle is expected to be shown in twelve major cities in Luzon and the Visayas from July to December 2016.

The objective of the documentary film Campus Tour Roadshow presentation is to reach out to various sectors outside of Mindanao and popularize the often misunderstood Bangsamoro struggle for peace. 

Specifically, this roadshow film presentation targets student leaders, school administrators, faculty and staff, and selected community leaders, and the area Representatives to Congress in the identified twelve cities. 

As designed, the documentary film presentation will be followed with an open forum where the audience will be encouraged to raise questions and comments on the film’s message and issues pertaining to the Mindanao conflict and peace process. 

Prior to the actual roadshow, to prepare for this, The Asia Foundation, together with their project partner K.A.K Productions, held a brainstorming workshop on how to respond to the possible questions and comments that will be raised during the post-screening open forum, recently in Manila participated by peace advocates and professors mostly from the academia. 

The output of the brainstorming session would come in the form of an “Experts Guide” as an accompanying document in response to possible questions and comments about the film, with the following tasks, 1) Develop an Expert’s Guide with Frequently Ask Questions on the Bangsamoro history and struggle, and 2) Formation of Experts Pool to be the resource persons for FAQs.

This first Campus Tour roadshow in Baguio City was participated by more or less 500 viewers—student leaders, school administrators, faculty staff, and selected community leaders, and the area Representatives to Congress, with Dr. Susana Salvador Anayatin representing the Christian Community, and Prof. Alih Sakaluran Aiyub representing the BTC as the open forum’s Q&A resource persons (who are part of the Experts’ Pool) to answer clarificatory questions vis-à-vis the Bangsamoro history and struggle, and the peace process.

Due to the documentary film’s quality, clear and precise explanations about the Bangsamoro history and struggle, and the peace process, most of the questions raised by the viewers were more focused on the peace process and ways forward on how to achieve a just and lasting peace in Mindanao during the open forum, according to Prof. Aiyub.

“How would you ensure inclusivity of governance especially for the Christians and Indigenous Peoples?”, asked a university professor.

“I am a Christian. I support the peace process and the rights of the Bangsamoro for self-determination. Because I have lived with them, I know their sufferings, their grievances and their aspirations for peace and development. And as Christians and IPs we have suffered too from the wars. I am convinced after I have participated in the series of peace consultations for the crafting of the BBL, and have read and understood the substance of the BBL drafted by BTC to be inclusive and for the common good of all.

 In fact, there are provisions, among others, that provide reserved seats for IPs and other sectors in the Bangsamoro Parliament,” Dr. Susana Salvador Anayatin explained.

Some raised the concern by saying, “What and how can we help?”

“We told them, let us work together to explain to our respective communities about the Bangsamoro history and struggle, and the peace process for understanding and appreciation of their legitimate right to self-determination as expressed in the CAB and to be operationalized through the BBL for its Autonomous Regional Government to replace the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is considered a failed experiment by former President Benigno Aquino, that would directly benefit the people in Mindanao, and the whole country because money spent in military operations would be now channelled to development and infrastructures for the country,” Prof. Aiyub emphasized.