By Francis Wakefield
The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), together with its allies in the broad peace civil society movement Monday hailed the passage of the reconciled version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was renamed the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) or the Bangsamoro Organic Law after the 28-member bicameral conference committee approved on July 18.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier certified the bill as urgent, is expected to sign the reconciled version before his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) also today.
Gus Miclat, executive director of Mindanao-based IID, said finally, real peace for Bangsamoro is within reach with the passage of this measure.
“We are optimistic that the Bangsamoro Organic Law if implemented as envisioned, will serve as a framework to likewise entrench genuine social progress for the whole of Mindanao. And for the country as well,” Miclat said.
“Peace in Mindanao is still under construction as it has been devastated by decades, even more than a century, of hatred, discrimination, and armed conflict. The enactment of the Bangsamoro Organic Law could, therefore, provide a solid foundation to rebuild lives and dreams for a progressive, truly democratic, and peaceful Mindanao,” he added.
IID said that together with their partners nationwide, they aim to build stronger people-to-people solidarity for the peoples of Mindanao Moro, Indigenous Peoples and settlers alike, especially to the conflict-affected communities that continue to suffer the scourge of recent armed conflicts.
Miclat stressed the BBL is not the be-all and end-all of our collective struggle to achieve just peace.
“There are definitely still challenges along the way—and that include defending the gains of the Mindanao peace process and monitoring the actual situation of communities on the ground,” Miclat said.
“If we are to build peace through this Bangsamoro law, this kind of peace must effectively weaken the forces of abject poverty, exclusion, injustice, and conditions that breed violent extremism,” he said.
Wary of some forces that might question the BBL at the Supreme Court, Miclat said they aim to be more vigilant as they cannot afford any more delay to the passage of the BBL.
“We aim to be more vigilant this time as we cannot afford any more delay to the passage of the BBL. We will not tire, we will not falter—a peaceful resolution to Mindanao conflict must prevail at all costs. We are all a part of this struggle,” Miclat said.
Last week, during the intense debates of the bicameral conference committee on the BBL at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas, IID with its allied network in the All-Out Peace movement and Bangsamoro groups held a peace rally in front of the hotel and submitted an open letter addressed to all members of the committee.