PEACETALK: The Bangsamoro Organic Law and Social Justice

(Presentation of Cardinal Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I.. Archbishop of Cotabato at the interfaith forum on the Bangsamoro organic law in Isabela City, Basilan on 27 December 2018)

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and his wife, Congresswoman “Dada” Hataman, Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason, Grand Mufti RDI-ARMM, Prof. Mohagher Iqbal, Sec Carlito Galvez of OPAPP and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff, BTC Commissioner Dr. Susana Anayatin

Assalamualaikum! Ako po ay hindi kasali sa mga nagdraft ng Bangsamoro Basic Law. Pero, as mentioned sa opening video kanina, ako po ang nagbigay ng synthesis ng “historic injustices against the Bangsamoro people.” Tatlong injustices po:

  • Injustice against Bangsamoro identity;
  • injustice against Bangsamoro sovereignty and territory;
  • injustice against Bangsamoro integral development.

Sa observation ko po itong triple injustice ang ginamit ng various peace panels of the Moro Liberation Front at ng Gobyerno as a reference for their negotiations.

Ang topic ko po ay: “The Bangsamoro Organic Law and Social Justice”

At ito po ang iisang objective ko: to help you to develop an informed and responsible choice in the coming referendum to ratify the BOL whether you vote yes or no; the only way for to have a responsible and informed choice is for you to know the BOL and what it contains.

Marami po kasi ang sumasabi NO sila, pero di pala nila alam ang BOL. Basta NO lang sila.


  • BOL – a three-fold win-win solution:
    • It addresses the historic injustices against the Bangsamoro and their aspiration for self-determination in their own territory.
    • It recognizes the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines and its national sovereignty.
    • It safeguards and promotes the fundamental human rights of minorities in Bangsamoro territory
  • My own personal interests are focused on two issues: Bangsamoro self-determination; the interests and concerns of minorities, namely the Indigenous Peoples and the non-Bangsamoros or “settler communities.”
  • In these Notes bullets are positives (“lights”); double asterisks are problematic (“shadows”).

Questions that are frequently asked:

  • Is it true that the Bangsamoro Organic Law claims the whole of Mindanao?
  • Will Christians lose their lands and properties?
  • Will non-Muslim women have to wear the Muslim veil?
  • Will Christians no longer have the freedom to practice their religion in public? Will Christian schools no longer have the freedom to teach their faith?
  • Will the Shari’ah law be the governing law in Bangsamoro territory?
  • Will Christians be ruled by the Shari’ah law?
  • Will the MILF and the MNLF military forces be the police and the army of the new Bangsamoro territory?


  • sometimes called the “justice of the common good”
  • the principle at the heart of a just, peaceful and harmonious society
  • the sum total of everything that promotes the common good of all
  • some fundamental elements:
    • respect for the human person, created unto the image of God, and the rights that flow from human dignity
    • the call to family, community and participation
    • fairness and equity
      • no discrimination
      • no exclusion
    • solidarity – unity because everyone, regardless of race, gender, belief, ethnicity belongs to the human family of God
    • care of creation


The Preamble

  • recognizes “the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants in the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao…to establish an enduring peace on the basis of justice….” Note the important phrases: “other inhabitants” and “on the basis of justice.”
  • it is the Filipino people, by act of Congress that ordains and promulgates the BOL; the former BBL had a preamble that had the Bangsamoro people as the lawgiver.


** Need for clarification: “natives or original inhabitants…whether of mixed or of full blood shall have the right to identify themselves, their spouses and descendants, as Bangsamoro.” In Sulu, Cotabato, and elsewhere, there are many people with mixed Tausug or Maguindanao blood but are not Muslims, nor do they consider themselves as Tausugs but Chinese perhaps, are they members of the Bangsamoro? Or do they only “have the right to be Bangsamoro,” if they so wish? Who are they? A problem of identity.


  • Section 1. Explicitly recognizes that Bangsamoro territory “shall always be an integral, indivisible, and inseparable part of the national territory of the country.”

** Section 2. Composition, : “Cotabato City.”

(d) a problematic inclusion – Cotabato City voted twice previously not to be included in ARMM. It will now have to be subject to another referendum. To my knowledge in the second referendum in 2001, the “No” vote won had only a majority of 200 votes. The demography of the city has dramatically changed in the last 15 years or so with presently a predominant Maguindanao population. Some political leaders, for their own personal reasons, do not wish Cotabato City to be included.

  • (f) par. 1: inclusion of “contiguous areas” – “resolution of the local government or a petition of at least 10% of the registered voters of the area seeks for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification” of the BOL – an improvement over the BBL that had multiple referendum (every year for 5 years) up to 25 years after the ratification. This was critiqued as a “creeping expansion” of the Bangsamoro territory, especially in the light of constant demographic changes.

** (f) par. 2: “Provided. That in all cases, the political units directly affected shall vote favorably un the plebiscite, as provided in * *

  • Section 3. Art. XV”. Presumably, the barangay or town that voted for inclusion in ARMM in 2001 would vote Yes. The provision places its Yes vote in jeopardy since the town or the province has a non-Bangsamoro majority.


  • 1. Territorial Integrity and Allegiance – another explicit recognition of the territorial integrity of the country, of upholding the Constitution as the fundamental law of the land, of unequivocally owing allegiance to the country.
  • 6. Promotion of Unity – …peace, justice and goodwill among all peoples.
  • 7. Social Justice – to be promoted in all aspects of life and phases of development
  • 9. Rights of non-Moro Indigenous Peoples – to be promoted “within the framework of the Constitution and national laws.” The IPRA is implied.
  • 10. Freedom of Choice – “There shall be no discrimination on the basis of identity, religion, and ethnicity.” 


  • 9. Council of Leaders

It shall consist of:

(d) “Representatives of…women, settler communities…youth… and

(e) “Representatives of other sectors”

** This section needs further clarification:

Representatives of “women, settler communities…youth…of other sectors” could also be from Christian groups? Could “other sectors” include religious leaders of settler communities as a counterpart of “the Ulama” in (d)? Note that representation and number of representatives are to be determined by the Parliament.



  • 7. Classification and Allocation of Seats, (a) to (c).

an opportunity for settler communities to organize and establish alliances with other political parties in order for political participation and advocacy; take note especially of (c) – 2 reserved seats each for non-Moro IPs, settler communities, women, youth, and Ulama. How about religious leaders of settler communities?

  • 9. Regional Parties – an important consideration for settler

communities since only duly accredited regional parties can participate in the Bangsamoro elections.


** SEC. 1. Transitional Justice

This Section only provides transitional justice for Bangsamoro people and Indigenous Peoples but is silent with regard to injustices done to settler communities. Perhaps the Bangsamoro Parliament can include this matter in its enabling law make transitional justice inclusive.

  • 3. IP Rights – par. 4, explicitly states that IPRA is not to be diminished.
  • 4. Customary Rights and Traditions

Par. 2: “The Parliament shall adopt measures to ensure mutual respect and protection of the distinct beliefs, customs and traditions of the Bangsamoro people and the other inhabitants in the BAR.”

Par. 3: “No person shall be subjected to any form of discrimination on account of creed, religion, ethnic origin, parentage or gender.”

  • 5, Religious Freedom – “any establishment and any institution is free to implement policies and undertake activities pursuant to their respective religious beliefs and values.”
  • 6, Human Rights – “The Bangsamoro Government shall fully respect human rights.” 

Social Justice

  • 8, Right of Access to Basic Services – to the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants of BAR.
  • 10, Rights of Labor – guaranteed and may be expanded by the Parliament.
  • 11 and 12, Participation and Protection of Women – at least one woman in the cabinet, protection of the fundamental rights of women, Commission on Women, versus exploitation and discrimination
  • 13, Rights of the Youth – a commission on youth affairs
  • 14, Rights of Children – to be protected; versus exploitation.
  • 15, SETTLER COMMUNITIES – “…the Parliament shall create an office for settler communities to promote the welfare and address issues and concerns of settler communities in the BAR.”


  • 16, Integrated System of Quality Education,

Par. 5 – three representatives of private education have the right to participate in the appropriate ministry and offices of the Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education ad Skills Development Authority and other government offices on issues dealing with private schools.”

Par. 6 – The right of sectarian and educational institutions to propagate their religious beliefs shall not be curtailed. The regional educational system shall not discriminate against the sectarian educational institutions in any manner or form.”


  • 1, Justice System in the Bangsamoro

Par. 4 – “Shari’ah shall apply exclusively to cases involving Muslims. Where a case involves a non-Muslim, Shari’ah law may apply only if the non-Muslim voluntarily submits to the jurisdiction of the Shari’ah court.” N.B. This underlined provision is required in SEC. 5, 6, and 7.

Par. 6 – “The provisions of this Article shall not prejudice the rights of non-Muslims and non-indigenous peoples.”


  • 2 – “The Police Regional Office in the BAR shall be under the direct operational control and supervision of the Philippine National Police.”


** SEC. 3, Results of the Plebiscite

problematic proviso since the vote of the Bangsamoro would be placed in jeopardy by the vote of the majority settler communities:

in (b) – the municipalities in the province of Lanao del Norte

in (c) – the barangays in Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigcawayan,

Pikit and Midsayap

in (e) – the city of Isabela in Basilan

** (d) – problematic vote in Cotabato City, since the people of the city

have already voted twice against inclusion in the ARMM.

  • (f) the time limitation (at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the BOL) prevents “creeping expansionism” of the Bangsamoro territory.


  • 2, Bangsamoro Transition Authority, par. 3:

Settler communities shall have representatives in the BTA.

** SEC. 13, First Regular Election – “shall be held and synchronized

with the 2022 national elections.” A 3-year period of transition with t

with the BTA headed by the MILF may be too short for new

Bangsamoro values of governance to set in; traditional political

values and interests do not die quickly.


  • 1, Amendments and Revisions

“Any amendment to, revision, or repeal of this BOL shall be made by law enacted by the Congress of the Philippines.” This is a safety measure to prevent radical elements from hijacking the BOL.

(Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I., is Archbishop Emeritus and Apostolic Administrator Sede Vacante of the Archdiocese of Cotabato)