Sectoral leaders unite to support BBL

Stakeholders and various sectoral leaders aired their strong support for the immediate passage and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law during the Cotabato leg of the joint public consultation of the House of Representatives on the proposed bill held at Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City and at the Esperanza A. Garcia Municipal Gymnasium in Midsayap, Cotabato Province last February 15 and 16.

Fr. Antonio Pueyo, said this is the time to unite and set aside religious differences to show support for the BBL, which he believes would give lasting peace in Mindanao.

“Tayong lahat, we have to support the BBL because I think this will be creating or bringing about peace in our region,” he said.

Timuay Gumbaila Gunsi, vice chairman of external affairs of Confederated Descendants of Rajah Mamalu Inc., an Indigenous Peoples’ organization representing the Teduray, Lambaganian, Dulangan-Manobo, Higaonon, T’boli and Blaan expressed support to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission version of the BBL.

“We declare our equivocal support for the passage without amendments of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law version of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission,” he said.

For his part, Duma M. Mascud, convenor of the Sustainable Initiative of Grassroots and Networks for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (SIGN BBL), which is the umbrella organization of different civil society organizations in Mindanao pushing for the passage of the BBL, said the bill if passed can help stop violent extremism because the BBL answers the Bangsamoro aspirations.

“Ang mga kabataan natin pumupunta sa violent extremism dahil sa Bangsamoro aspirations na hindi nabibigay, pero pag na implement ang agreement na … gustong mangyari ng Bangsamoro, which is already embodied under that Bangsamoro Basic Law, natural na ang mga kabataan natin ay pwede nating akayin at pabalikin sa tamang landas,” he said.

He added that the enactment of the proposed BBL will pave the way for socio-economic boost not only in the region but in the entire Philippines.

“Pag naipasa ang BBL magkakaroon ng kapayapaan at sigurado kasunod nito ang pag pasok ng mga investors na mamumuhunan hindi lamang sa rehiyon kundi sa buong Pilipinas,” he noted.

In his speech at the Midsayap hearing, Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Atty. Nabil Tan reiterated the order of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be prioritized before the shift to federalism.

“Nag-bigay ng assurance ang ating Pangulo na ang ating Bangsamoro Basic Law ay papasa bago ang shift to federalism,” he said.

Cotabato locals who came to the Midsayap hearing from the nearby towns are also hopeful for the immediate passage of the bill and believe that the BBL, when enacted, would pave the way for a better tomorrow for the Bangsamoro.

“Gusto ko maipasa ang BBL para maging tahimik na ang lugar at makapaghanap-buhay ng tahimik,” Hairunisa Hamza, 45-year-old mother of two, said while expressing her support for the BBL.

She said that she’s looking forward to the day genuine peace is realized, adding that when it happens, she will be ready to leave her children because she knows they will no longer experience the suffering she endured due to armed conflict.

“Pag may kalilintad (peace) na, yan na ang panahon na pwede na ako mawala kasi alam ko na hindi na nila maranasan ang hirap na naranas namin sa pagiging bakwit,” she added.

Ustadzia Sania Ganion, 60 years old, from Municipality of Matalam in Cotabato province said she and her family endured armed conflict since 1974 and she appeals to the representatives to pass the BBL BTC version, believing that it is the key to long-lasting peace in Mindanao.

“Ang lunas po sa lahat ng hirap na nangyari at maaring mangyari pa sa mga Bangsamoro ay ang pagsasakatuparan sa BBL-BTC version, huwag na po sanang maranasan ng mga kabataang Bangsamoro ngayon ang aking dinanas noon,” she said.

The House of Representatives’ committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity will continue the series of public consultations on the BBL in Davao City today.

By | February 17th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

BBL will ‘significantly’ lower terror threat in Mindanao – Galvez

ISABELA CITY, Basilan – The passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and its eventual ratification will redound to a more peaceful Mindanao as this will address the root causes of the armed conflict, a top military commander here said.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, noted the provisions of the BBL addresses the underlying factors that breed terrorism in southern Philippines.

“The enactment of the BBL will significantly help in lowering the threat of extremism and terrorism, particularly the Abu-Sayyaf,” Galvez, who is overseeing the government’s campaign against terrorist groups in the island.

He said the terror groups will now find it hard to recruit new members and carry out attacks, since the implementation of the BBL answers the “issues” of the Bangsamoro people.

“Right now, the terror groups are trying to change the narrative of the conflict in Mindanao,” he said, adding that the extremists are taking advantage of the frustrations of the Bangsamoro people to join in their violent movement.

Galvez said the military fully supports the Duterte administration’s peace agenda, particularly the implementation of the peace agreements the government has signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He earlier noted, “The outcome of the peace process has a direct correlation with our problem on terrorism.”

His statement came as both houses of Congress are conducting a series of public hearings in Mindanao for the proposed bill.

Senators led by Juan Migual Zubiri, who chairs the subcommittee on the BBL, yesterday went to the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi and the city of Zamboanga for public consultations.

During the public hearing here, Zubiri emphasized the implementation of the BBL will help in the campaign against terrorism.

“They (security forces) are the ones who want peace more than all of us. It is them who also wish that the BBL be achieved,” he said.

Basilan governor Hadjiman “Jim” S. Hataman-Saliman said there is a need to fully address violent extremism in his province.

“We have a problem on terrorism. We experienced terrorism since 1991. Kaya sana habang we are discussing the BBL, let’s free Basilan and other areas in ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) from terrorism,” he said.

The island province is the birthplace of the notorious Abu-Sayyaf group in the early 90s. It led some of the country’s worst terrorist attacks, such as the bombing of a passenger ferryboat that left hundreds of people killed, kidnapping of foreign tourists, extortions, and beheadings.

For the senators who were present during the hearing, the BBL will provide fiscal autonomy, which will help address the threat of violent extremism by giving the Moro people greater opportunity for development over their ancestral lands.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said the senators have a “solid” support to enact the bill.

Senators Sonny Angara, Risa Hontiveros, Sherwin Gatchalian, and JV Ejercito agreed that the implementation of BBL would bring the much-needed economic boost and social development in the Moro-dominated areas.

To make the BBL successful, Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus G. Dureza challenged the Moro people to take an active role in the peacebuilding process.

“The responsibility is on the people. Ang pagbabago ay hindi lang sa batas pero sa sarili natin,” he emphasized.

The Senate is determined to pass the proposed law by March 22, according to Zubiri, to give a legal foundation for the creation of a new Bangsamoro region that will replace the ARMM. ###

By | February 11th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

BBL first before federalism

BONGAO, TAWI-TAWI ­– President Rodrigo Roa Duterte assured the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be prioritized before the shift to a federal form of government is carried out, said Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza.

BBL muna bago ang federalism. Klaro sa kanya na ang uunahin ay ang BBL, saka na ang federalism (BBL will come first before federalism. It’s clear with him that BBL will come first before federalism.),” Sec. Dureza said during the Senate’s joint public hearing on the BBL held at the Mindanao State University.

He emphasized the importance of the public hearings being conducted by the Senate on the BBL, explaining that these consultations primarily aim to obtain the views of residents who will be the main beneficiaries of the proposed law.

Dahil galling din dapat sa taong bayan ang input dahil hindi (lang) ito para sa atin, hindi para sa MILF, MNLF, kundi para sa lahat (The input should come from the people and not from us because this is not only for us, nor the MILF or MNLF, but for all),” Sec. Dureza said.

The joint Senate public hearing in Bongao, which was held  after the Jolo leg of the consultations, was attended by representatives of Bangsamoro civil and youth organizations, officials and staff of the provincial government of Tawi-tawi, MSU students and local residents.

 

Key to ending the decades-long conflict in Mindanao

In the same gathering, Ghadzali Jaafar, vice chair for political affairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), expressed the Bangsamoro people’s gratitude to members of the Senate for spearheading the public hearings on the BBL.

According to the MILF leader, it is crucial that the BBL is passed by Congress and enacted into law, as this will lead to the establishment of the Bangsamoro government.

Jaafar said the BBL will give flesh to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the national government and the MILF, which aims to put an end to the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.

Naniniwala kami na ito lang ang mapayapang paraan upang mawakasan na ang giyera sa Mindanao with dignity (We believe that this is the only peaceful way to end the war in Mindanao with dignity,” he said.

Jaafar said the public has nothing to fear with the BBL’s passage, as he explained that the proposed Bangsamoro government will be “democratic” and will still be under the authority of the national government.

For his part, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on the BBL, said the Senate is determined to pass the law by March 22.

The senator from Bukidnon pointed out that the establishment of a Federal form of government is not feasible at this time, as the current political dynamics in Mindanao is entirely different from the ones in Visayas and Luzon.

“Uunahin po talaga ang BBL, we will pass the BBL ahead of charter talks. Uunahin kayo dahil the federal set up in Visayas cannot be the federal set up in Luzon and in Mindanao dahil unique kayo. (The BBL will be prioritized and be passed ahead of charter talks. You will be prioritized because the federal set up in Visayas cannot be the federal set up in Luzon and Mindanao, because you are unique.),” Sen. Zubiri said.

“’Wag po kayo magaalala, we guarantee you [its passage] as soon as possible. Ito ang pinag-uusapan namin araw-araw, (Don’t worry, we guarantee you as soon as possible. This is what we discuss everyday.),” he added.

 

BBL to usher development in Tawi-Tawi

Sen. Zubiri also noted that once the BBL is passed, Tawi-tawi will be among the areas that will largely benefit economically, as the province can blossom into a top tourist destination that could even rival Boracay.

“Mas maganda ang beach niyo … Maganda ang sand, napaka-pino. Ito (BBL) na po ang instrument for peace, this for me is a long lasting political solution. This is the game-changer, ito ang mag-iiba sa status quo (You have beautiful beaches, and have the finest sand … This (BBL) is the instrument for peace, this for me is a long lasting political solution. This is the game-changer, and will change the status quo.”).

 

A landmark bill

In the meantime, Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali lauded the unity being shown by members of the Senate in pushing for the BBL’s passage.

“This is the only time that I have seen senators [travelling] together,” Rep. Sahali said, referring to the public hearings and consultations being done by the Senate subcommittee across Mindanao.

The congresswoman said she has been very vocal in her support for the BBL.

She has stressed to her colleagues in the House of Representatives that “this (BBL) is not an ordinary legislation. [That] this is a landmark bill.”

Rep. Sahali is optimistic that the proposed law will be passed by Congress, saying “I can already taste and feel victory.”

The BBL, which was drafted by the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission appointed by President Duterte, aims to provide genuine autonomy and address the political marginalization and historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people.

Legal luminaries such as retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide and retired Associate Justice Rodolfo Azcuna have thrown their full support behind the BBL’s passage, saying the proposed law does not contain any “legal infirmities” and is “constitutionally compliant.” ###

By | February 10th, 2018|MILF, News|0 Comments

Senators commit peace and prosperity for Sulu through BBL

JOLO, Sulu –  Senators are one in saying that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will usher better economic opportunities and will end the decades-old armed conflict.

“We all want peace. We want to stop the gun shootings, bombings and achieve normalcy,” Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said during the seventh hearing on proposed bill inside Notre Dame College of Jolo on Thursday, February 8, 2018.

Noting that the BBL is a “game changer”, Zubiri, who is the chairman of the subcommittee on BBL, said that 100 percent of the senators support the passage of the BBL.

He said they target to pass the BBL by the end of March, adding that the proposed law is the long-term political solution to address the problem in Mindanao, which is compliant to all the peace agreements.

Zubiri noted that the Senate is very much open for suggestions to further enhance the bill before its enactment.

“We want to hear all the sectors on the proposed BBL,” he said.

Senator Sonny Angara emphasized the BBL has a bipartisan support in the Senate.

“We are here united in one voice — minority and majority — one heart and one mind for the BBL,” he said.

By passing the BBL, Angara said, “We want the Bangsamoro people to write their own history.

“Expect our full support to achieve peace and prosperity to the Bangsamoro people,” he committed.

Senator JV Ejercito noted that “We have tried the military solution but this time we want to take the path of peace.”

“We all want peace. For the past years may kaguluhan sa Mindanao. It is the land of promise. Hindi na-achieve ang full potential ng Mindanao dahil sa gulo,” he said, but when “Muslims and Christians will work together, there is peace and prosperity.”

For his part, Senator Win Gatchalian described the BBL as the opportunity for the Bangsamoro people to be “the driver of your own destiny.”

“This is our dream. And we are in solidarity to your call to be the driver of your destiny,” he said, adding that the BBL “will pave the way for a strong and peaceful nation.”

Gatchalian also challenged the local government officials to give their full “cooperation to this opportunity para hindi ito masayang.”

Zubiri said “there’s no other opportune time (to pass the BBL), but today because we have a President and legislative heads who are all from Mindanao.”

“We have been longing to have peace in Mindanao and with the passing of this measure, Mindanao will be the land of fulfilled (promise),” he said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros of the minority group, said the legislative process of passing the BBL is part of the move in finding political solution to address the problem in Mindanao.

“The Bangsamoro people should find a way. And all of us, too, should find a way,” she said.

Governor Abdusakur Tan II, said they saw no “disadvantages” in the BBL when it was explained to him by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza and Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Jose Lorena.

“They explained to us the BBL … Naliwanagan kame,” he said.

The main point of conducting a hearing in the proposed territories is to enhance the BBL, Dureza said.

“Ang sadya namin ngayon ay para makinig kung ano yung gustong idagdag, tanggalin para i-enhance ang BBL,” he said.

According to him, President Roa Duterte’s marching order is for the BBL to be inclusive.

The President has earlier expanded the members of the BTC from 15 to 21 to have a representation from all sectors that were not included during the previous BTC.

The BBL is the legal document to operationalize the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the government signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014. ###

 

 

By | February 9th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Sulu stakeholders call for BBL passage

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.

 

By | February 8th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Dureza: Let’s give BBL a chance

JOLO, Sulu – Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus G. Dureza urged officials here to rally behind the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is being pushed by the Duterte administration.

“Let’s give this (BBL) a chance to make it work,” he told a gathering of local officials inside the municipal hall of Jolo on Wednesday.

Dureza, who arrived here ahead of the Senate hearing on the BBL on Thursday, emphasized the “new BBL now is an improvement of the old BBL.”

He was referring to the previous BBL which failed to pass congressional scrutiny due to issues in the Constitution.

The Presidential Adviser said his presence in this island province is to ensure that the local leaders and public will be clarified on the content of the BBL.

“Jolo is the model place. What Jolo will feel will resonate to other municipalities in Sulu,” he said, adding “We would like to hear from you if there are doubts on the BBL.”

“We are here to listen,” he said.

According to him, it is vital for the residents in the Autonomous Region to support the creation of the new Bangsamoro government. “Even if we sign an agreement and Congress pass the law, but if there’s no support from the people, nothing will happen,” he said.

“It should be acceptable to the people in order to address the historical injustices and give the Moros their right to self-determination,” he pointed out.

He said in order to achieve it, the current efforts of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is to simultaneously implement both works in the peace process and development.

 

Undersecretary Nabil Tan, the deputy presidential adviser on the peace process, concurred Dureza’s statement, saying that President Rodrigo Duterte expanded the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) from 15 to 21 to ensure that the BBL is inclusive.

The BTC’s primary job is to draft the BBL as part of the implementation process of the signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

“The BTC focused to correct the unconstitutional issues of the past BBL,” Tan, who is a native of Sulu, said.

Earlier, framers of the current 1987 Constitution have stated that the new version of the BBL has no constitutional infirmities during congressional hearings.

Tan said the passage of the BBL is crucial for the normalization track of the peace agreement so it can be fully implemented, such as the decommissioning of the MILF’s combatants.

BTC commissioner Jose Lorena said people of Sulu will greatly benefit in the BBL.

“We are hit by a calamity of conflict. A man-made calamity. An artificial calamity that only men can solve. We should move forward,” he said referring to the objective of the BBL in addressing the underlying factors of the conflict besetting Sulu and the ARMM.

As such, Lorena said the BBL gives the local government rights to control over their municipal waters.

At present, the municipal government has no direct control over the 15-kilometer municipal water but only beneficial rights.

Lorena said the BBL does not only seek to grant the local government a power to control over their waters but also has created another 7.2-kilometer buffer to the national waters.

“The idea is that (industrial-scale) commercial fishing vessels can’t encroach to our waters,” he said.

In addition, the BBL will also create Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and the Moro Gulf.

“The idea here is for us (the people) to have a participation in the management of the waters that will benefit the small fisherfolks,” he said.

Abdel-Razi Amin, vice mayor of Jolo, expressed his gratitude for “the opportunity to learn about the BBL.”

Both houses of Congress are simultaneously conducting public hearings on the BBL.

Congress targets to pass the BBL by March. ###

By | February 7th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

BTC’s BBL is a more improved version – Dureza

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza lauded the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law as an inclusive and “more improved version” compared to the previous versions of the bill.

In the hearing conducted by the House Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, Sec. Dureza affirmed that the BTC’s proposed version made the new BBL free from exclusivity and Constitutional barriers.

“The BTC was commissioned by President Duterte to draft a bill that will hopefully improve the previous BBL that did not pass Congress. I think we have an improved version of the previous bill,” he said.

The 21-member BTC was tasked by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to create an inclusive version of the Bangsamoro Law. It is composed of 11 members from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), three members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and representatives from the government, academe, Christian settlers, CSOs, local government, ARMM and Indigenous Peoples (IPs). The draft version was submitted to President Duterte in July 17 of last year.

Sec. Dureza also hailed the commission as a symbol of unity and sincerity by the MILF to find a common ground and honor peace agreements.

“The fact that the BTC, which was composed mostly of the MILF, had agreed to refashion the law that should be entrenched into what it is today is already a recognition that one Filipino nation wants to converge together, under one flag, and under one government,” the Peace Adviser said.

“We cannot continuously stick on our very basic positions. We must find a convergence point – and I thank … the MILF and the Bangsamoro for they see this point of convergence. … and now we are looking at the present BBL.”

BBL crucial to GPH-MILF Normalization Track

Meanwhile, BTC Commissioner Maisara Dandamun-Latiph stressed to the lower chamber that the passage of the BBL is important in strengthening the current normalization track between the government and MILF.

“The completion of the normalization process of is actually hinged on the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law…if there is a passage of (BBL), then the decommissioning process, will actually begin,” Dandamun-Latiph said.

The normalization track is one of the two tracks in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the Government of the Philippines and the MILF in 2014. Another one is the political and legislative track which includes the passage of the BBL.

“We have milestones already to measure the sincerity that both parties are willing to do for the sake of peace,” Dandamun-Latiph said, referring to the first phase of the normalization track, which includes the MILF’s ceremonial turnover of 75 firearms implemented in the same year with the signing of the CAB.

Strong Bicameral Support

The BTC draft version has received strong backing from both the Senate and House of Representatives. In September 2017, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez with fellow representatives of the lower house filed the same draft as House Bill 6475.

Meanwhile, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri withdrew his own version of BBL to be replaced with the commission’s version on January 2018.

So far, there have been six public hearings conducted by the Senate Subcommitee on Bangsamoro Basic Law, two of them held in the cities of Cotabato and Marawi. This week, public consultations will be held in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga.

The hearings to be conducted by the House of Representatives in Mindanao on the other hand will kick off in Cotabato City on February 15 and will conclude in Koronadal City on March 9. ###

By | February 6th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Retired SC chief justice affirms BBL’s constitutionality

Retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. affirms the stance of his fellow Constitution framers that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s (BTC) version of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is constitutional during the 6th Senate public hearing held on 05 February.

In his statement, Davide enumerated four points supporting the passing of the bill.

“First, the passage of the creation of an autonomous region is a constitutional mandate. Second, its passage is compelled by the imperative of correcting injustices of the past. Third, the region that has been given autonomy must be recognized and respected for its uniqueness. And fourth, the BBL must be understood as an extraordinary special law not only because of its nature but also as an embodiment of the peace agreement and product of the prolonged negotiations,” the retired Chief Justice said.

Seconded by fellow framer Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid, they stood unanimously that the BBL is the nation’s commitment to peace and development.

“I share the sentiments of my fellow framers of the 1987 Constitution that the present and revised version of the BBL is constitutional. There are no constitutional infirmities within the definition of the social justice provision – which is the heart of the Constitution,” Braid said.

Davide and Braid were part of the 14 members comprising the 1987 Constitutional Commission who forged a consensus on the support of BBL back in 2015.

Also discussed in the session were fiscal policy, anti-dynasty and local governance.

During the 5th Senate hearing last week, retired Associate Justice Rodolfo Azcuna affirmed that the version crafted by the BTC complies with the current Constitution.

The bill also gained collective support from the local areas in Mindanao as seen during the 3rd and 4th public hearings conducted in Cotabato City and Marawi City respectively. For this week, the Senate Subcommittee on the BBL will visit Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga to continue its series of public hearings.

By | February 5th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

BBL has no constitutional infirmities – retired SC justice

PASAY CITY – “I was pleasantly surprised when I went over the four bills, precisely to look at possible constitutional infirmities, and I could not find any,” affirmed retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna during the 5th public hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) earlier today in the Senate.

The Subcommittee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law held a public hearing to discuss constitutionality, taxation, and mineral and natural resources of the proposed bill.

“To me, as far as constitutionality is concerned, everything is within the framework of the Constitution. The territory of the Bangsamoro is part of the Philippine territory,” Azcuna added.

As mandated in Art. III, Sec. 1 of the proposed Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) version of the BBL, the Bangsamoro remains part of the Philippine territory.

Azcuna, who is among the framers of the 1971 and 1987 Philippine Constitution, maintained the form of government provided in the BTC proposed law also complies with the present Constitution, because the governor is elected by the parliament, and the parliament itself is elected by the people.

Art. X, Sec. 18 of the 1987 Constitution states that “The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units.

The proposed BBL “fulfills both the requirements of elective and representative,” he said.

 Successful out-of-town hearings

Recently, the Senate conducted two public hearings in the cities of Cotabato and Marawi.

Senator Miguel Zubiri described it as successful, “When I say successful, 99.9% of the population of these areas are unanimous in support for the BBL. We are shocked to see thousands of people lining up the streets of Cotabato, we have people with flaglets, posters, streamers, women, children…”

The Senate initiated hearings on the BBL will continue next week in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi.

The proposed BBL, which was drafted by the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, seeks genuine autonomy and is set to address the political marginalization and historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro. This is part of the 2014 peace accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. ###

By | January 30th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Salita’t Siyasat Peace Conversation: A meeting of the minds

DAVAO CITY—It was a “face-off.” A friendly face-off, that is.

For three hours, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza took the “hot seat,” as he engaged senior high school students of the Ateneo de Davao University in a spirited discussion on a range of peace and security issues.

But the rules of the dialogue were clear from the start: The seasoned peace negotiator would be on equal footing with his young hosts. No one was above the other.

And the student participants, mostly senior high school leaders and staff of the school’s secondary and college publications, relished each and every moment of their encounter with the top cabinet official.

In fact, they took the opportunity to “grill” Sec. Dureza and ask him probing questions that did not seem to come from 17- and 18-year olds but from veteran political analysts.

On several occasions, the tables seemed to be turned between expert and novice, as the peace adviser listened intently to the students as they articulated their opinions on the peace process, violent extremism, the Marawi crisis and press freedom.

Clearly, the stars of the show were the students who demonstrated that the youth of today are not unhinged from present day realities, particularly on issues affecting the nation’s peace, security and development.

But like a father having a fireside chat with his children, the peace adviser patiently explained to the young crowd seated around him that the key to successful peace negotiations is finding a “convergence point” among stakeholders.

He said that such convergence can be achieved not by forcing one’s will upon the other and extracting concessions, but by “finding a common ground” between them.

“Peace-building is not [only] coming up with a ‘magical’ solution,” he pointed out, explaining that there is always a “different way of looking at things” that would ultimately lead to a solution that is favorable to all.

Sec. Dureza emphasized that a peace settlement cannot be achieved by “one stroke” of a pen, saying such agreements take time and which foundations are built “peace by piece.”

On the issue of violent extremism, he said the problem first reared its ugly head during the Marawi crisis.

According to him, the security threat had long been “incubating” in the country, but there were no serious efforts to address it until the siege happened.

He said those responsible for the crisis “had no ideology” whatsoever, and were only focused on sowing fear, anger and chaos among the residents.

To address this concern, Sec. Dureza said OPAPP has carried out a series of “social healing” activities that would help the victims recover from the physical and emotional trauma which resulted from the attack.

He noted that the siege had “destroyed the moral fiber of society” and there was a need to help the people “deal with their angst.”

“When something bad happens, you just can’t give people a house to make them happy,” Sec. Dureza said, adding, “You have to give them the opportunity to express their pain.”

To prevent a recurrence of the Marawi incident, he underscored the need “to address the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro” through the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Both houses of Congress are now conducting public hearings on the proposed law that aims to give flesh to the comprehensive peace agreement signed between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the national government in 2014.

For their part, the student participants expressed their full support to the peace process and provided insights on how they think the youth can help the government in effectively addressing the peace and security situation in Mindanao.

For senior high school student Trisha Lupina, “Peace and order is something we (students) need to jointly work on.”

On the other hand, political science student Ian Silvano stressed the need to promote the principle of “social justice,” as he challenged high school students to play a more active role in peacebuilding.

Meanwhile, Jupiter Cabig, editor-in-chief of Atenews, observed that the issue of peace is discussed “abstractly,” as he called on his fellow students to help “contribute in re-framing this perspective.”

ADDU president Fr. Joel Tabora, who was seated among the audience, smiled with pride as he witnessed how the young Ateneans confidently expressed themselves and stood up to the challenge of exchanging views with Sec. Dureza.

In his remarks at the event’s closing, Fr. Tabora lauded the student organizers of the event, as he challenged them to be staunch advocates of social justice.

“Our mission and vision for students is to make a commitment for peace,” he said. ###