COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 04 May) — Many are asking about my position about the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) and the Bangsamoro.
To begin with my whole life’s advocacy since the first quarter storm is open and transparent… since I write and speak openly.
1st, I have always favored and fought for greater autonomy to the regions and putting an end to the monopolistic control of power by the Central Government.
2nd, My solidarity with the struggle of our peoples, particularly the workers and peasants and the minority nationalities and their struggle for their self-determination. Way back in the 1970′s, even prior to the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) and MILF (Moro Isalmic Liberation Front) discourse on RSD (Right to Self Determination), our group had advocated for it. I believe this is the sole and unique contribution of the MORO (Moro Revolutionary Organization) to the struggle of the Bangsamoro.
3rd, I have always believed in the peace negotiations and political settlements in the Southern Philippines since 1976 – the 1st Tripoli Agreement; then the 1996 Final Peace Agreement; and NOW the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
4th, I also DO NOT BELIEVE in any failed experiments… My position has always been the progressive and gradual unfolding of the aspiration of the minority nationalities – Bangsamoro, Cordillera, and IPs (Indigenous Peoples). The 1976 Tripoli Agreement produced the ORC (Office of the Regional Commissioners), ORG (Office of the Regional Governor) and LTP (Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook); the 1987 Constitution produced RA 6734 – the legal tender in the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) produced the RA 9054 – though imperfect, yet steps forward toward the dream and aspiration.
5th, Now we have the CAB and this hopefully would produce yet another legislation – the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL. It would NOT be a perfect law, but definitely it would be a step forward to the realization of a dream and aspiration.
6th, I am for the Bangsamoro; I support the CAB; And I am working and advocating for a good Basic Law that would spell, in the final analysis, real partnership and solidarity between and among all the inhabitants of the future Bangsamoro Territory.
My support, solidarity and strong advocacy are guided by knowledge, hopefully wisdom and experiences… IT IS NOT BLIND AND UNINFORMED ADVOCACY and SUPPORT.
7th, My personal friendship with the leadership of both the MNLF and MILF go along way… It began and forged by our common stand and struggle against Martial Law and the fight against dictatorship. It is also anchored on our belief for the rights of the minority nationalities towards RSD. The INJUSTICES perpetrated by the State against the minority nationalities are now being addressed albeit slowly and by piece mill. We have known each other for years and our friendship stood the tests of fires and wars… so it will withstand the test of peace.
8th, I believe that the success or failure of the Bangsamoro would affect our long-term advocacy for the Federal Philippines. It is for this reason that the success of the Bangsamoro would impact our long-term advocacy for Charter Change towards Federal Philippines.
This is the reason why we have always asked for greater conversations and debates; for disclosures and transparency.. for us all to work together as PARTNERS and NOT simply members of the cheering squad.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, Jr., senior policy adviser at the Institute for Autonomy and Governance in Cotabato City was former president of the Notre Dame University. He was majority floorleader of the Consultative Assembly in the post 1996 peace agreement between government and the Moro National Liberation Front and was member of the Independent Fact-Finding Team during the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace process in the late 1990s until the “all-out war” of the Estrada administration in 2000).