PEACETALK: The Bangsamoro Basic Law: Roadmap to Just and Lasting Peace

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The Long Tortuous Road to Peace and Bangsamoro Self-Determination

The journey to peace in Southern Philippines has been arduous and tedious, at times hostile and adversarial, replete with stops and punctuated by intermittent warfare and all out war. But at other times, the journey was collaborative, infused with mutual trust, slowly reaching the final steps — the 10 Decision Points on Principles, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), later the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and finally the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

And both sides, the Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with a pervading sense of the common good of all Filipinos, passionately contested every provision of the BBL.

For more tan 17 years both peace panels with changes of personnel, persistently pursued peace. 

World and local history has repeatedly shown how no one can quell a rebellion for self-determination by guns. When victory seems to have been won, the aspiration for self-determination lives on and will once again erupt into armed conflict.

Such is the nature of the Bangsamoro aspiration for self-determination which no successive regimes, colonial, Spanish, American, or Filipino, could slay.

Three Major Socio-Political and Moral Principles of Peace Negotiations

At the center of 17 years of peace negotiation are three major major socio-political and moral and principles:

  • the preservation of national sovereignty,
  • the safeguarding of national territorial integrity,
  • and the realization of self-determination for the Bangsamoro.

The BBL is firmly rooted on these three major principles.

Towards this goal of self-determination the MILF had to explicitly give up and sacrifice its original identity as a separatist movement and become the Bangsamoro voice to be part and parcel of the Republic of the Philippines.

Fundamentally, peace negotiators, with legal and constitutional partners, meticulously strove to articulate the various provisions in such a way:

  1. that the provisions are constitutional;
  2. that the self-determination granted is not a first step towards secession;
  3. and that the autonomy of the Bangsamoro would be more than what has been granted by the Organic Act that created the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The principles of subsidiarity and solidarity now enshrined in the Constitution together with the principle of devolution of power governs the asymmetrical relationship between the proposed regional Bangsamoro autonomous government and the national government.

On the Crossroad of History: the Peacemaking Role of Legislators

Our legislators are in the enviable position to crown 17 years of peacemaking with the approval of the BBL.

To my mind, they are not only legislators. Regarding the BBL their legislative role is eminently one of peacemaking.

They can either ignore the painstaking achievement of 17 years of peacemaking by emasculating the BBL in such a way that the aspiration of self-determination becomes once more a hollow dream. Or they can strengthen the BBL, refining its letter and preserving its spirit, such that the issues of constitutionality, national sovereignty, territorial integrity, devolution of power, the nature of a regional autonomous region, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Christian minorities, as well as peoples of other faiths, and other issues, are resolved.

The BBL will not solve all the problems of criminality and lack of peace. It will not end all armed conflict due to rido or land disputes. Small groups will continue to fight for secession. But the BBL is the alternative for the greatest majority of the Bangsamoro and for our own military and security forces who are tired of war. It is the alternative to radicalization and extremism now spreading towards Southeast Asia and creeping into our shores.

The Lord of history has brought us to a crossroad on the journey to a just and lasting peace. The crossroad is akin to the scriptural crossroad. One way leads to death. The other leads to life.

To approve a BBL that is lesser than the Organic Act of the ARMM and falls short of self-determination as liberally granted by the Constitution is to perpetuate social injustice and human underdevelopment.

To approve a BBL, strengthened by legislative wisdom, and preserving substantively the letter and spirit of the proposed BBL leads to social justice, peace and human development.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his / her piece on peace in Mindanao. Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI is Archbishop of Cotabato and lead convenor of Friends of Peace).

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  1. Cardinal Quevedo you must be doing your research on BBL in a palace’s chamber where all the amenities and comforts are available at the flick of your finger. You never, I believe, have soiled your feet on the ground, as you make BBL purposefully sound as the only means to peace in Mindanao, when it is the reverse that will happen, war.You must be talking of another BBL, not the BBL of the MILF–the terrorist group who murder and bomb innocent non-combatant civilians and kidnap people for ransom. If you were talking of the MILF’s BBL, then I can now say to you that you’re gullibly naive.

    • Boknoy, how can you judge the Bishop of Mindanao that he has no access to accurate information. Are u another Northerner who advocate for us to war yet you do not live here. It is us who will suffer…has suffered and houses crops destroyed. A lot has been learned from successful conflict resolutions around the world and that where BBL ideas came from. YOU ARE LIVING IN UNKNOWN FEAR and wants the diverse people of Mindanao to live as you live. WE DECIDED TO BE BRAVE AND SUPPORT BBL…if you FEAR to join the Peace Train…let us & others BRAVER THAN YOU ride. I am a Bisaya and i support BBL. It will be good for whole Philippines.

      • I will throw back the question to you: How can you judge the bishop of Mindanao to have access to accurate information? He does not. Listen to the bishop in Jolo, you will know he knows what he is talking about. By just reading the entire BBL and listening to both sides of the issue will give you an informed knowledge. But your laziness and stupidity prevents you from the truth. You support something you don’t haven’t even read and understand. And you dare judge me. Listen to what the bishop of Mindanao is saying and you will know he is as ignorant of the BBL as you are. Both of you better find the highest building and jump from there so you would not to cause more miseries to the people in Mindanao.

  2. The 16th Congress of the Philippines will pass the BBL. They will make history as the congress that shepherded our beloved Pilipinas into a new dawn of understanding that may yet bring us to the same standing as Indonesia , Singapore , Malaysia and other countries that leveraged their cultural diversity for their economic and political gain. Imagine the FDIs that will come in to Ph..kakaexcite lang.. Ipasa na yang BBL.

  3. Pasado na yan BBL. It is the right thing to do.
    Malinaw between the peace council and sectoral groups, at lahat ng matitinong
    tao who want peace and development versus the noisy and shall i say discredit
    opposition (discredited by corruption cases) who are taking advantage of a
    situation to appear righteous. Let us not let them throw a monkey wrench on the
    peace process. to Muslim Filipinos its their one greatest shot at peace and
    justice that may not come their way again in another 17 years.

  4. Passing the BBL in its substantive meaningful form will create a new region of peace and prosperity and end decades long conflict
    and destitution for Muslim Filipinos.

  5. Our Senators and congressmen can take comfort in the moral high ground
    — doing what is right — and that is promoting peace and social justice in
    Muslim Mindanao long neglected and exploited by the central government. Yes to Peace! yes to BBL!

  6. I am near 50’s and from Bisayas…Approve BBL. Lets Make History…be Politicaly Mature for sake of my growing children. I personally want my children to not see civil war anymore and see a prosperous country and continous development. Bombs, bullets and violence are waste of resources. Approve BBL in original form. Let ARMM be converted to full BBL…give our Moro & Lumad a complete tool to prosper. Dont WATER DOWN BBL.


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