CONVERSATIONS with Fatima Pir Tillah Allian: “The right to self-determination binds the Insider Mediators together”

(Conversations with Fatima Pir Tillah Allian, Program Manager, Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro or Women for Truth and Justice in the Bangsamoro), an Insider Mediator, on 9 November 2018 at the Panorama Summit Hotel in Davao City where the Insider Mediators met to discuss the Bangsamoro Vision)

Fatima Pir Tillah Allian, Program Manager, Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro or Women for Truth and Justice in the Bangsamoro). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Q. Basically this is about the Insider Mediators
A. coming together and discussing and talking about the Bangsamoro issue, what do we want to see in the new entity and even

Q. So how many clusters are these? Thirteen? Sixteen?
A. I thnk you have women, you have PWDs, two rebel fronts, you have professionals, traditional leadrs, religious leaders

Q. Why is there a need for visioning exercise?
A. The visioning exercise is one way of providing a space in the platform to come together and talk about their vision for the new entity. It is very important to give people in the other areas and sectors the chance to say what they want to say and be heard by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority that will be led by the MILF and some members of the MNLF.

Q. But the people whom you gathered in these various clusters come from diverse backgrounds, probably having divergent views, so how can you come up with a common vision for the Bangsamoro?
A. If you talk about your desire for your homeland you only have one thing in common, that is for the common good of the majority. So if you take a look at the exercises and the questions asked, it is not really about just yourself but how you can contribute as individual, as family, as sector organization, to the betterment of a new kind of governance, a new kind entity. Magkakaiba siguro ang gusto natin but ang daming commonalities: good governance for instance ay sinasabi ng traditional leaders, sinasabi ng kabataan, sinasabi ng PWD, sinasabi ni kababaihan. You talk about what kind of governance do they need to see and they always say kailangan na ang mga tao ay nakakapag=participate at nako-konsulta so you don’t need to have a PhD or a masters to come with this kind of ideas. Ito yung mga ideas ng mga tao, alam mo na pangangailangan so it’s … more of a commonality rather than diversity.

Q. The IM is now two years old
A. Yeah two years.

Q. What makes the IM different from all the rest, considering that again you come from different sectors… with probably opposing views. So how can you come up with discussions… what kind of discussion do you usually have in the IM, do you raise your voices?
A. It’s the aspiration for Bangsamoro people and it is an exercise of our right to self determination na kahit na nandiyan ang BOL (Bangsamoro organic law), hindi pa rin dapat nagtatapos ang RSD (right to self-determination). Kahit nandiyan ang BOL hindi nagtatapos ang problema na merong mangyayari or meron pang kailangan ayusin at gawin sa Bangasamoro. So I think that is the common drive that we all have in IM regardless of your organization, regardless, kung ano man ang background mo, it is the RSD that binds together.

Q. What makes this group different from all the rest? There are so many Bangsamoro groups
A. Hindi naman siguro kami iyong crème dela crème, I don’t really believe in that, I think the desire to contribute while we are still here, while we are young and we are able to do it, the desire to contribute our ideas, our energies together as IM, I think makes it, medyo doon kami nagkaiba kasi iba yung aming backgrounds — may CSO, merong nagwo-work sa government — but we go beyond that. Kahit ikaw ay nasa gobyerno, pwede ka pa ring bumaba sa community, pwede kang makipag- usap sa mga tao. Kahit ikaw ay CSO, pwede ka pa ring umakyat sa ibang lebel ng opisina at pwede ka pa ring mag engage sa kanila at dalhin ang boses ng mga tao sa ibat-ibang departamento at iba’t ibang organisasyon. I think yun ang advantage namin dahil iba-iba yung aming mundo, iba-iba yung aming lugar, iba iba rin yung mga tribo. Isa kami. There’s just one Bangsamoro for all and I think yun ang pagkakaiba namin

Q. I understand you were actively participating as IM in the run up to the passing of the Bangsamoro law. What exactly were your contributions, were the contribution of the IM to that process?
A. Siguro iyong pagbabantay, yung maisulong CAB-compliant na BBL na naging BOL siya later. Dahil nakikita namin na napakaimportante ng CAB (Comprehesive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) dahil yun ang basehan ng peace agreement supposedly ng gobyerno at saka ng MILF at doon din nakabatay yung aming kagustuhan na magkaroon ng isang pamahalaan na kami mismo ay ang magtatatag noon, ang aming right to self determination ay reflective of what has been signed by the government and the MILF.

Noong nasa Manila na po kami, the last marathon for the passage of the BBL and later BOL, hindi kami nag give up with the hope that we can still have the fiscal autonomy and other pillars of our state, yung autonomy mo, yung ikaw ay mabigyan ng pagkakataon na maka lead, yung meron kang autonomy to also lead in your own area na iyong ina-acknowledge na ang the right to self determination and among other things, to make sure until the last race before the passage of BOL the IM was really there to still advocate for a lot of things pa rin, yung mga nawala pinu-push pa rin kasama namin, pinu-push pa rin yung mga ksama namin, pinupush ang Lake Lanao, dapat ang management doon ay mapunta sa Meranaw.

Q. Even pushing for in the last race ..
A. In the last race, we made sure in the last race before the passage of BOL yung mga nawala sa Bangsamoro ay dapat maibalik tulad ng the management of the lake Lanao pati yung kanyang sharing and among other things, so yun ang malaking contribution na nagawa ng IM

Q. I noticed here only a few women were represented and a few representatives for the youth. It’s that the same for the rest of the clusters?
A. Hindi naman. Sa aming na run na workshops, dalawa yun – one in Pagadian na workshop, Zamboanga City-Zamboanga Sibugay and the Zamboanga del sur and that of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, a significant number of women and youth were very much present involved in the workshops. And I’m very happy kasi marami silang nailagay na mga issues for instance, ang VAWC napag-usapan din yun and issues how to better protect women in terms of policies that need to be formulated, mga mechanisms na kung saan pwedeng pumasok ang mga babae in governance. so maraming mga very exciting na issue na nailabas

Q. Is there still a need for the IM beyond the plebiscite?
A. Yes. May need pa rin na nandiyan ang presnsya ng IM beyond the plebiscite dahil sabi ko nga kanina, ang aming grupo ay galing sa iba’t-ibang sector at iba’t- ibang organisasyon at dahil doon very rich yung mga diskurso pagdating sa ano ang mga kritikal na issue na kailangan pang pagusapan para mas mapaganda ang gobyerno ng bangsamoro.

Kailangan mo din ng alternative views and a very diverse opinion galing din sa outside the (revolutionary) fronts, outside of the government dahil that makes it even more, it gives a different face and that face really is the need, reality ng mga tao. And perhaps pag ikaw ay nasa loob ng institution, there are times na hindi mo talaga makikita kung ano ang dapat pang makita to for instance ano ang mga gaps na kailangan ng kababaihan, ng PWDs. Ano yung mga gender responsive na pwedeng ipasok. So doon pumapasok ang IM, to give that kind of perspective.