Bangsamoro Law seen to heal political, historical wounds

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/ 19 Nov.) –  The ratification of the Organic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) in a plebiscite on January 21, 2019 will give justice to the Bangsamoro people as it will bring about healing to political and historical wounds, an official said on Saturday.

Prof. Raby B. Angkal, chief of staff of the Office of the Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), said the ratification will lead to a just and lasting peace that will stop the suffering of the Moro people.

Angkal said President Duterte, the chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the chair if the BTC are one in calling on the Filipino people “to come to peace, justice, security.“

The OLBARMM will implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and the MILF in March 2014. Once ratified, it will automatically replace the Autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.

Its ratification will establish the Bangsamoro Transition Authority that will run the regional government until the regular elections in 2022.

Angkal said the Bangsamoro homeland was better off in “socio economic and political status than it is today” when it was still an “independent state of the Moro people.”

He said their struggle “seems to be unending because this was started way back more than 400 years ago today. The reason being Moros were previously a separate nation at the time.”

He said they were united before the colonization of the Bangsamoro homeland covering Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.

He said the historical injustices against the Moro people started with the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris that sold the Philippines to the Americans for $20 million, the annexation of the Bangsamoro ancestral domain to the Philippine territory when Americans granted Philippine independence on July 4, 1946, and land laws that dispossessed the Moros of their lands.

He cited, too, the massacres that killed thousands of Moros during the American colonial era and the martial law period. These included the Bud Dajo massacre in 1906 where over 1,000 Moros were killed and the Bud Bagsak massacre in 1913 where at least 2,000 Moros perished.

He added that during martial law, over 300 Moro civilians were killed when the Army attacked Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte on November 30, 1973.

Five hundred more were killed in February 1974 by Army soldiers and members of the Ilaga, an anti-Moro group in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat.

On September 30, 1974, the military massacred 2,000 Moros in Malesbong, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, he said.

Part of the Normalization Annex of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is the establishment of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) whose task is to undertake a study and make recommendations with a view to promoting healing and reconciliation among the communities affected by the conflict in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.

In its report released in February 2016, the TJRC said it found during its consultations and “listening sessions” that “the Bangsamoro narrative of historical injustice is based on an experience of grievances that extends over generations, particularly with respect to land dispossession and its adverse effects upon their welfare as a community as well as their experience of widespread and serious human rights violations.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)