Prof. Lingga, Executive Director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, pointed out that it is important for the Bangsamoro to assert their right to self-determination “to determine their political status since their incorporation to the Philippine state was without their plebiscitary consent”. He suggested that Congress pass a law that will authorize the conduct of a referendum for the Bangsamoro to determine their political status. The referendum, he said, shall give Muslims in the Philippines several choices including independence, autonomy, free association, consociational arrangement, federal arrangement, and other power sharing arrangement.
Allaying fears by many that this will inevitably result to the fragmentation of the republic, Lingga pointed out that allowing people to enjoy the right to self-determination does not automatically result in the separation of the claimed territory from the parent state, although this may be one of the possible outcomes. He cited an example the experience of the 1960 referendum in Puerto Rico where 60% of the population voted for continued commonwealth status. He further remarked that while separation may be an option, denying a people the opportunity to exercise this right, or failing to make available the mechanism to exercise the right to self-determination, will make peaceful resolution of armed conflicts more difficult.
Former sectoral representative Ronald Adamat and Datu Vic Migketay Saway, representing the indigenous peoples of Mindanao also asserted that the same self-determination framework can be applied to the IPs in the country. Mr. Adamat emphasized that both the Indigenous People and Bangsamoro share the same advocacy for Self-Determination and that the former should also be given legitimate representation in the GRP-MILF Peace Talks. The issues on ancestral domain and representation in the peace talks of indigenous people are amongst the predicament raised by the indigenous community. The question of ancestral domain between the Bangsamoro and the Indigenous People’s territories is the focal point of such representation. Datu Vic, for his part, accentuated the fact the minoritization of the Bangsamoro and the Indigenous people were part of a colonial strategy to justify the marginalization of the claims to the Bangsamoro homeland. He further pointed out that both Bangsamoro and Indigenous people are victims of deception in terms of land ownership to protect colonial interests.
The forum also included panelists such as Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic, Co-Covenor of PCID and former Human Rights Commissioner, Atty. Randolf Parcasio, and Mr. Klaus Preschle, country representative of KAS. (Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy)