CSOs laud granting of fiscal autonomy in BBL

Mandaluyong City, July 12, 2018 – The League of Bangsamoro Organizations lauded the Bicameral Conference Committee following the approval of provisions granting the Bangsamoro its fiscal autonomy.
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have been tackling the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) since July 9 to reconcile their respective versions of the law.
Yesterday, the legislators agreed to the 75-25 wealth-sharing term in favor of the Bangsamoro. This increases the share of the Bangsamoro in government tax revenues by 5 percent.
Currently, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is getting 70 percent of collection of a province or city from national internal revenue taxes, fees, and charges, as well as taxes imposed on natural resources.
Apart from this, panels from both chambers of Congress have agreed on the automatic allocation of the annual block grant for the Bangsamoro region. This is equivalent to five percent of the net national internal revenue of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Bobby Benito, speaking for more than 60 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) with a total of roughly 40,000 individual members, said the network of organizations joyfully welcomes the decision.
Kailangan talaga ‘yan kasi sa tingin namin isa ‘yan sa major problems – iyong fiscal autonomy – kung bakit nabe-behind kami sa neighboring areas,” Benito said in an interview.
(It is really needed because in our view, the lack of fiscal autonomy is one of the major reasons we are trailing behind our neighboring areas.)
“Pero ngayon, meron na kaming powers na mag-identify ng projects based on our needs. Iyong mga komunidad namin, sila na ang mag-decide kung magkano ang (ibibigay) na budget sa ganitong project. Mayroon kaming leeway, mayroon kaming autonomy to decide kung anong project ang developmental para sa amin,” he added.
(But now, we have the power to identify the projects based on our needs. Our communities will decide on how much budget will be allocated for such project. We have leeway, we have autonomy to decide what projects will be developmental for us.)
Benito also urged government and the legislators to trust the Bangsamoro people.
Sana magtiwala lang iyong government, iyong legislators na i-prove namin na we can govern, we can manage. Basta bigyan lang kami ng leeway,” he said.
(We hope the government and the legislators will trust us and allow us to prove that we can govern, we can manage. Just give us leeway.)
The bicameral committee is eyeing to present the reconciled version of the BBL to President Rodrigo Duterte before his coming State of the Nation Address on July 23. ###
By | July 12th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Pass stronger BBL, Bicam urged

QUEZON CITY, July 11, 2018 – Various civil society groups today appealed to the Bicameral Conference Committee to strengthen the provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in adherence to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.
In an interfaith rally held at the EDSA Shrine just outside Crowne Plaza Hotel where members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are reconciling their respective versions of the law, the groups called for a BBL that is compliant with the peace agreements and one that will ensure peace and development in the region.
“Ang aming organization ay buong pusong sumusuporta sa kagandahan ng BBL at kabutihang madudulot nito sa Mindanao at buong bansa (Our organization wholeheartedly supports the BBL and the benefits it will give to Mindanao and the entire country),” Datu Al-Amer of 1taBangsa Peace and Peoples Organization said.
According to Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Lawyer Algamar Latiph, a stronger BBL will be beneficial not only to the region but the nation itself.
“Ito po ang magbibigay ng political at economic structure kung saan ang intensyon niya ay iaddress ang development at kapayapaan (This will give the political and economic structure needed to address issues of development and peace),” he said.
Latiph added that the enhanced power of the BBL will address the historical and structural injustices suffered by the people in the region.
“Kailangan natin itong power na sapat ngunit inaallow naman ng Constitution (We need these powers that are enough and are allowed by the Constitution),” he said.
The Bicameral Committee is now on its third day of deliberation of the proposed measure, which is expected to be ratified and signed into a law on July 23 by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte before he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
By | July 11th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Congress to come up with ‘best version of BBL’

ORTIGAS, PASIG CITY, July 9, 2018 – First District Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas today reaffirmed the commitment of the Bicameral Committee (BiCam) on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to “do the herculean job of coming up with a better and the best version of the bill.”
Fariñas reiterated the plan of the committee for both Chambers to ratify their respective versions on the 3rd regular session on July 23, the same day of the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
President Duterte will then sign the bill into a law by afternoon of the same day.
Meanwhile, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said the result of the conference “will be the cornerstone towards a just, lasting, and dignified peace in the Bangsamoro.”
“The Bangsamoro Basic Law is an instrument of peace. Let this measure start the advent of peace and development to our beloved Mindanao,” he added.
Zubiri also reiterated the following guidelines on coming up with the best version of the BBL:
1. Constitutionality. Being the supreme law of the land, the Constitution sets both the latitude and the limitations of what can be incorporated in the basic law.
2. Autonomy. Within the limit set by the Constitution and other laws, the committee will give the widest latitudes in reconciling the two versions to achieve self-governance and real autonomy in the Bangsamoro.
3. Acceptability not only to the whole nation but more importantly to the people of the Bangsamoro. This law to become effective must be ratified in the plebiscite of the people of the Bangsamoro.
4. Social Justice. This law must correct the injustices and prejudices against our Muslim brethren. It will respect the opportunity in order to advance in life.
5. Peace and Development. Poverty incidence is high in Muslim Mindanao. The long-term objective of this law is to bring lasting and dignified peace in Muslim Mindanao and the Bangsamoro. Thus it is also an instrument of peace and development in the region.
The Bicameral Conference for the Bangsamoro Basic Law started today at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria., with lawmakers working to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the law.
Nine Senators and 18 members of the House of Representatives compose the Bicameral Conference Committee that will resolve the varying provisions of the House Bill No. 6475 and Senate Bill No. 1717.
By | July 9th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Dureza: Gov’t still open to peace talks with NDFP

HAGONOY, DAVAO DEL SUR (JULY 5, 2018) — “The doors for peace negotiations with the communist rebels are still open.”

This was the announcement made by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G.  Dureza during the celebration of the 65th Araw ng Hagonoy at the municipal capitol here.

Dureza bared that during a command conference held in Malacañang last night, President Rodrigo Duterte laid down his four “wishes” that would make the peace talks possible between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The command conference was attended by top officials of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“First, there will be no coalition government. Second, there will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax,” he said.

“Third, the venue of the talks will be local. And fourth, there will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA members are encamped in designated areas,” Dureza added.

He, however, said that in case these “wishes” are not adhered to by the NDFP, local government units can still proceed with “localized peace engagements.”

Dureza pointed out that this move could be a viable option because LGUs “can find a way to connect to the rebels.”

“Because you (LGUs) know them, you can help them,” he said.

According to the peace adviser, those who are fighting government are doing so not because of ideology but due to a more basic reason.

“They are going against government because of need,” Dureza said.

“That’s why they burn equipment, do extortion activities. Government doesn’t want this to happen,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dureza said he is optimistic President Duterte will sign the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on July 23, the day he will deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Both houses of Congress are set to hold bicameral sessions from July 9 to 13 in order to come up with a unified version of the BBL based on the respective substitute bills approved in the Lower House and Senate.

Dureza said that with the passage of the BBL, areas that have been left behind will be prioritized and given the attention they truly deserve.

“I believe that better things are ahead of us,” he said. ###

Locals execs express gratitude for PAMANA projects

DIPOLOG CITY, July 04 2018 – Local government units of Zamboanga del Norte thanked the national government for implementing projects in their communities that are focused on livelihood and poverty alleviation.
Sibuco Mayor Norbideiri Edding affirmed this during the Midterm Assessment of PAMANA (PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn) projects conducted by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) with its stakeholders in the province of Zamboanga del Norte last July 3, 2018.
Malaking bagay talaga ang naitutulong nito [PAMANA] sa communities — sa’min sa grassroots level – kasi more on poverty alleviation programs and livelihood siya (PAMANA has a huge impact on our communities – on us who are at the grassroots level – because its projects are more on poverty alleviation and livelihood),” Edding said.
Nagpapasalamat kami sa (We thank) OPAPP that we were included because we need all the help we can get as far as developing our communities is concerned,” he added.
Edding also thanked the government’s initiative to include all stakeholders in the assessment because it gave them the opportunity to discuss their issues regarding the project implementation.
“Our objective is to provide alleviating programs para sa mga conflict-affected na constituents natin (Our objective is to provide alleviating programs for our conflict-affected constituents),” he said.
“So these programs are really helping our communities. And ‘yong mga insurgents natin na nando’n sa kabilang side, they were given the chance to change and be reintegrated with the communities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mayor Gamar Janihim from the municipality of Sirawai cited an example of how the PAMANA projects had positive impacts in his communities.
Ipalagay mo na lang ‘yong communal irrigation, imbis na ‘yong ani ng mga farmers ay isa sa isang taon, dahil sa irrigation magiging apat na sa isang taon. So malaki talaga ang nadudulot ng PAMANA projects sa community (Let’s cite communal irrigation as an example: our farmers can harvest four times in one year instead of their usual one harvest per year. That’s why PAMANA projects really bring big changes in our community),” he said.
Janihim also conveyed his gratitude both on the projects implemented in his municipality and the assessment conducted in the city.
Masaya ako na naimbitahan dito para malahad ko rin ‘yong problema sa community. Ang kagandahan nito kasi makikita natin kung papaano ‘yong implementations, kailan, kung nade-delay ba ang proyekto, at naa-update ba kami (I am happy to be invited here in the midterm assessment because I can share our problems in the community. Another good thing from this assessment is that we can know the process of implementation, its timeline, status, and regular updates to us),” he said.
During his closing remarks, OPAPP Director Sherwin Vizconde thanked the province’s LGUs for taking the time to discuss their respective projects to them.
“We in OPAPP are very hopeful that the much coveted just and lasting peace will become a reality. Kung hindi man sa ating lifetime, then to the next generation. We are here to plant the seeds of hope, of peace,” he said.
The Zamboanga del Norte forum was the second to the last of assessments conducted by OPAPP aimed to determine the status of PAMANA projects’ physical and financial progress as well as the ways to move forward in order to enhance the project’s implementation. ###

Dureza talks peace with Filipinos in New York

MANILA, April 27, 2018 – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza showcased the inclusive approach of the government in peacebuilding during a briefing with the Filipino community at the Philippine Consulate in New York City yesterday.

Fresh from his speaking engagements during the high-level meeting on peace and sustaining peace at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Secretary Dureza met with the group to underscore the importance of incorporating the public in the peace process.

“You have to address the bigger table. The bigger table is the public. Because even if I sign agreements with the smaller table (rebel groups), ‘pag hindi tinanggap ng publiko wala ding mangyayari (nothing will happen if the public does not accept it),” he said.

Citing the failure of the previous Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be passed by Congress in 2016, Dureza said legislators vote for measures consistent with the sentiments of their constituents.

Aside from engaging the general public, the peace adviser also emphasized the need to continue the dialogue with rebel groups that already have peace agreements with the government.

Mayroon pa tayong mga nagrebelde sa gobyerno na tumalima na ngayon (There are a number of rebels who have now come back to the folds of the law). We cannot just leave them alone,” he said.

The government is currently working on the completion of the peace process with the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade and the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army/Cordillera Bodong Administration.

Dureza said in all the efforts the government is undertaking, there is also the need to improve the lives of the people affected by conflict.

“Our work for peace is not only negotiations now. It is also a nexus with development. Kailangan nating ma-improve ang lives ng mga tao sa mga areas na yan. Buong bayan sana kung pwede (We need to improve the lives of the people in those areas. The whole country if possible),” he said.  ###

Bangsamoro areas can be key to PH economic growth

PASAY CITY – The passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will not only prevent violent extremism and terrorism, it will also bring sustainable economic growth in the country.

During the forum on the BBL with the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas held in April 23 at the SMX Convention Center, various officials said the BBL is the key that would convert the challenges of the Bangsamoro areas into opportunities.

In his message, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo Montenegro said good governance will pave way for the Bangsamoro region’s prosperity.

“Part of the reason there is little development in many areas is the lack of governance. If there is no governance, economic activities do not come in, and there are no local efforts to bring the area forward even though resources are available,” he said.

For his part, Bangsamoro Development Agency Chairperson Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan said it is not true that poverty will continue in the areas identified in the BBL once the law is passed.

“That is not true because the annual block grant would even be added in your allocated budget, according to the BBL. There would also be a special development fund of P100 billion. This fund will be spent for the next years is in order for the Bangsamoro to catch up with other regions in Mindanao and the rest of the country. So it’s not true that there’s no fund. There’s a huge fund and we just need to utilize it in the right way,” Dipatuan said.

Under the proposed BBL, the Annual Block Grants are to be automatically appropriated and released by the national government. For 2019, the block grant for the Bangsamoro political entity is pegged at P72 billion.

Director for External Relations Edgar L. Bullecer of the Paglas Group, Inc. further noted the opportunities the Bangsamoros’ human resource would bring when it comes to governance.

“From our experience in the last 22 years in the Bangsamoro, the human resource in the Bangsamoro is also willingly and able-ready to respond to the challenge of governance. The Bangsamoro can host investors and the Bangsamoro can adapt to the discipline on what is needed to persevere for economic development. With the BBL, the Bangsamoro has been willing, able, ready to respond to the challenge,” he said. ###


By | April 25th, 2018|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Barangay leaders key to BBL passage — Roque

PASAY CITY, April 24, 2018 — Kayong mga barangay leaders – nasa inyong mga kamay ang pagpapanalo ng BBL.”(Barangay leaders, the passage of BBL is all in your hands.)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. made this pitch in his keynote message at the forum for Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) with the Liga ng mga Barangay – Mindanao Chapter held yesterday at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

Malinaw po na kaya tayo nandito ay para masigurado na pagdating ng plebisito, overwhelming na ‘oo’ ang iboboto ng ating mga kababayan (It is clear that the reason we are here is we want to make sure that during the plebiscite, there would be an overwhelming ‘yes’ from our countrymen),” he said.

Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has given full support to the law, believing that it will solve the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao. He also said the Senate and the House of Representatives have already promised to pass the BBL.

Tingin ko naman ang ating mga botante ay maniniwala na kapag sinabi ng Presidente na ang solusyon sa problema ng labanan sa Mindanao ay BBL, lahat po sila [voters] ay boboto ng oo sa plebisito (I think the voters will believe that when the President says the BBL is the solution to the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao, all of them will vote yes in the plebiscite),” Roque said.

The forum with barangay leaders aimed to provide a brief background of the historical injustices committed against the Moro people. It also gave an overview of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the salient points of the BBL.

Lawmakers have committed to pass the BBL by the end of May this year. ###


Dureza: Peacebuilding should be done ‘peace by piece’

DAVAO CITY, April 16, 2018 “We must work peace by piece.”

This was how Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza described government’s peacebuilding strategy, which has been the key in effectively dealing with the various rebel groups across the country.

“We can’t do this overnight. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past. We must learn to do things better,” Dureza said in his message during the Annual Plenary Session of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines held here on Monday.

He said inclusivity has been the guiding principle of the Duterte administration as it seeks to find a long-lasting solution to the armed conflict that has plagued the nation for decades.

Dureza said this has also been the mindset that has enabled the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to move forward in Congress.

“It is President Duterte’s commitment to pass the BBL,” the government’s top peace negotiator said, explaining that in order to make this promise a reality, President Rodrigo Duterte knew that the voices of other stakeholders had to be heard.

This inclusivity led to the expansion of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s (BTC) original membership from 15 to 21, three of them members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Dureza said although the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will have a “first stake” in the establishment of the proposed Bangsamoro state and government, the MNLF will also be an integral part of “the bigger leadership.”

Meanwhile, Dureza said the Duterte administration has adopted a more realistic approach in dealing with the communist rebels.

He admitted that there is a “wide gap” that must be bridged between the two parties, with the government working “within the parameters of the Constitution.”

He said this is why there must be a “convergence point” in which both groups “can meet halfway.”

Dureza had announced on April 4 that the President had directed him and the government panel to work on the resumption of peace talks with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), with specific instructions to forge a ceasefire agreement

Dureza stressed that proposals for capitulation or surrender should not be brought up during the negotiations, saying there are more “creative” ways of negotiating with the rebel organization.

“The key is to find an ‘alternative route,’” he said. “You can’t kill an idea. You have to address the root cause why they are rebelling,” he added.

Dureza cited the example of the GPH-MILF peace process in which the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) was established even while the peace negotiations between the government and the rebel group was ongoing.

“You have to make them feel that they are already benefitting,” he said. “There is also a need to take care of the bigger public who also feel they are being deprived,” he added.

Dureza also emphasized that the Duterte administration wants to carry out the negotiations at a “faster pace.”

“As President Duterte has said, this is already our last chance (to forge a peace agreement),” he said. ###

Trust fund to continue dev’t projects in 6 MILF camps

Taguig City — The Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) for Reconstruction and Development Program Phase II (MTF-RDPII) will begin implementation and continue the delivery of socio-economic interventions in the six previously acknowledged MILF Camps in the provinces of Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, following the signing of the Program Partnership Agreements in this city last April 10, 2018.

The MTF, co-chaired by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the World Bank (WB) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), is a multi-donor trust fund facility established in 2005 to consolidate international development assistance for the socio-economic recovery of fragile communities in Mindanao.

The six identified camps are Abubakar-as-Siddique, Omar, Rajamuda, Badre, Bushra, and Bilal.

The MTF is administered by the WB with contributions from the European Union and the Governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, the United States, and Spain. Roughly US$ 4.5 million has been allocated for the implementation of the second phase of the program with Community and Family Services International (CFSI) as the Trust Fund Recipient and the BDA as the Implementing Partner.

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza, in a message delivered by Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion, expressed gratitude to the MILF, WB, CFSI, BDA, the international development partners and other partners for peace for their “zealous dedication to ensure that the Normalization track will move forward.”

In 2014, the Government of the Philippines and the MILF agreed to undertake measures for the transformation of camps by signing the Annex on Normalization as provided by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Since then, MTF has been proactively carrying out camp programs like livelihood, socio-economic, and infrastructure interventions as well as implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS). Around 70,000 individuals in 31 communities in these fragile areas have benefitted from these initiatives.

For her part, WB Philippines Country Director Mara Warwick guaranteed that the WB together with partners under the MTF are “committed to continue supporting efforts that enhance the prospects for peace in Mindanao.”

“We look forward continuing to accompany the government, and especially OPAPP, as well as the MILF in the pursuit of peace and development in Mindanao and the implementation of the peace agreements,” Warwick said in her remarks.

The signing ceremony was attended by OPAPP’s Donor Coordination and Partnership Unit (DCPU) Director Arvin Chua, Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga of the MILF, Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan of the BDA, Dr. Steven Muncy of CFSI, and the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation Director General Juan Pita.

By | April 12th, 2018|MILF, MNLF|0 Comments