ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 3 Dec) – Massive public consultations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law kicks off Wednesday in Lanao del Norte, parallel to the convening of the peace panels of government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur.
The peace panels meet in a bid to settle the details on power sharing and normalization that are preventing them from clinching a comprehensive peace accord more than a year after inking a landmark preliminary pact.
The first consultations will take place in two clusters covering at least four of the province’s 22 towns Dec. 4 with former Iligan City mayor Franklin Quijano serving as facilitator.
All the towns plus Iligan City will hopefully be covered by Dec. 7, said Gimaidee Ann Cadotdot of the Pailig Academy for Grassroots Democracy (PAGD), secretariat of the Lanao consultations.
The civil society-led consultations in Lanao del Norte is part of a Mindanao-wide effort to solicit inputs from grassroots communities regarding the charter of the future Bangsamoro self-governance entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
This is covered by a memorandum of agreement between the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and at least 40 non-government groups and networks.
Primarily, these consultations will be done in every legislative district of the provinces of the ARMM and provinces which have localities that can be potentially part of the Bangsamoro. Thematic consultations are also planned like among indigenous peoples, women and youth.
For Lanao del Norte, its 22 towns are grouped into 10 clusters while the 44 barangays of Iligan City is also another cluster. Some 100 participants will be convened per cluster.
The results of these consultations will be forwarded to the BTC as well as the government and MILF peace panels, said Cadotdot.
“We have especially targeted grassroots leaders because we believe that the effort to improve the Moro autonomy setup must redound to the greater benefit of the ordinary Bangsamoro,” Cadotdot stressed.
More than 30 local civil society organizations are particitipating in the consultation effort which is supported by the GIZ Civil Peace Service program, Cadotdot added.
“We aim that the conduct of this democratic exercise provides a hopeful contrast amid the historical backdrop of Lanao del Norte being a key trigger for war in the 1970s, 2000 and 2008,” explained Quijano.
The Moro autonomy experiment began in 1977, founded on the 1976 Tripoli Agreement of Peace inked between government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
But consultations related to its design was first done in 1987 through the Mindanao Regional Consultative Commission (MRCC) that drafted the original Organic Act of the ARMM.
But much of these consultations, according to Mindanao historian and MRCC member Rudy Rodil, never went down to the grassroots. The effort to involve grassroots leaders in designing Moro autonomy is therefore the first in its 36-year history.