JOLO, Sulu – Members of the civil society groups here are pushing for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying this will answer their long-drawn aspirations for peace in Mindanao.

“We are pushing for the passage of the BBL because we are (longing) for a genuine peace,” said Prof. Sahie Udja of the Mindanao State University during an information and education campaign on the BBL on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.

Udja said provisions of the new version of the BBL, drafted by the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), encompasses all the agreed peace agreement between the government and the Moro fronts.

For Al-Khalifa Jilah of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, the creation of the Bangsamoro government will shore up the economic conditions of the people of Sulu.

“Because peace and order will be addressed especially in the island province,” he said in vernacular.

“We are calling for the members of Congress and Senate to be sincere in the peace process and pass the BBL,” Jilah said.

Another civil society member Rohana Elias of the Kapatud Bangsamoro said there is a need to pass the BBL for the needed change in Moro-dominated areas in Mindanao.

“This is for the future of the youth,” she said, adding that “we will actively campaign for the passage of the BBL.”

According to Jilah, people in the proposed territories should educate themselves about the proposed law.

“We see the need to do more information and education campaign on the BBL in the grassroots level to help them in the decision-making process,” he said.

Jerry Marrakech of the Sulu Alliance for Peace and Environment said the BBL addresses the perennial problem of encroachment of industrial fishing fleets over their fishing grounds.

“The BBL gives the importance of environmental issues especially in the Bangsamoro waters,” he said.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) organized at least three forums on the BBL ahead of the Senate hearing on Thursday.

Both houses of Congress target to pass the BBL by March and conduct the plebiscite mid-year in the proposed territories.

The BBL is the legal document that will operationalize the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed in 2014 – culminating its 17-year peace negotiations.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza urged civil society groups to spread the word about the BBL.

“In your own way, help us explain the content of the BBL in your communities,” he said.

Dureza said that among the phases of the peace process, the critical stage is the implementation process.

“Even if we sign an agreement and Congress passes the law, but if there’s no support from the people, nothing will happen,” he said.

The Presidential Peace Adviser calls on the civil society groups to help in creating an enabling environment for peace and lower down the level of hatred.

“Start peace with ourselves.  Then radiate it outside,” he shared.