CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/11 May) – Peace advocates on Monday held rallies in key cities in Mindanao to drumbeat support for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law which was scheduled for voting at the House ad hoc committee on the BBL.
In Cagayan de Oro, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, and parishioners took to the streets to urge Congress to pass the bill.
“View the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) as partners. Internal security issues like the Abu Sayyaf, BIFF and the MNLF can be best handled by the Muslims themselves,” Ledesma said at the rally in Gaston Park.
The archbishop warned the House that the “alternative of scrapping the Bangsamoro Basic Law would be a return to square one a generation ago and may ensue in continuing violence and unrest in Mindanao.”
“The only ones who stand to gain are arms dealers and some politicians who attract attention by polarizing communities,” he said.
Ledesma said the BBL represents a reasonable, practical and carefully crafted settlement for attaining lasting peace and justice in Mindanao.
The House 75-member ad hoc committee headed by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd district, Cagayan de Oro) was set to end their deliberations and vote on the BBL Monday afternoon or Tuesday.
Peace groups led by Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman staged a huge rally outside the House of Representatives complex in Quezon City urging the congressmen to pass the bill “in its entirety.”
Rallies were also held in the cities of Davao, Cotabato and Iligan on Monday.
Ledesma led some 500 of his parishioners and Maranaos from the Plaza Rotunda to Gaston Park where a brief rally was held Monday morning.
Muslim Youth Council chair Soriaya Ali reminded the lawmakers that the Moro youth will inherit “an island of peace” if they pass an “unadulterated” BBL.
“Our people need a structural change to break the cycle of violence that is happening now,” Ali said.
Balay Mindanaw chair Charlito Manlupig appealed to Rodriguez and other representatives to think of the legacy they would leave behind.
“We ask you to bear in mind how your decisions can affect the peace process and impact the lives of millions of people in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. We ask you to think about the thousands of IDPs (internally displaced persons) who are still currently suffering in evacuation centers,” Manlupig said.
He said peace advocates see the BBL as the only viable, logical and constitutional answer that would end not only the armed conflict but also the years of underdevelopment, poverty and corruption. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)