PEACETALK: Transitional Justice in Bangsamoro: What’s Next?

(Overview of the international conference on “Transitional Justice in Bangsamoro: What’s Next?” delivered by Guiamel Alim, chair of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and former Coordinator of Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission Listening Process, on 7 February 2023, Day 1 of the three-day conference organized by forumZFD Philippines and GIZ-CPS Philippines). 

Today’s conference is very significant in the light of our efforts at building strong social cohesion among the peoples of Mindanao, most especially in the BARMM after the long years of violence;

As we rebuild the physical and economic ruins of decades of violence, we must also rebuild destroyed relationship and social friendship towards healing and reconciliation.

In this three-day conference on Transitional Justice (TJ) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), we have a line-up of resource speakers who are experts in their own field on Transitional Justice and Reconciliation (TJR). We have invited resource persons from other countries who will share their experiences in dealing with TJ issues. We also have national and local experts who will provide us theoretical understanding of TJ and also updates on the status of the TJ initiatives in the country and Bangsamoro. Our main facilitator- facilitator of all season- Magz Maglana and Prof. Rufa Guiam, who will deliver a keynote message are among the experts on TJR in the Bangsamoro.

The strategic goal of this conference is to establish social justice towards a more democratic and just society.

Why this conference

Five years ago today, the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), was organized and commissioned by the GPH and MILF panel to conduct a study on the legitimate grievances, historical injustices, Human right abuses and marginalization through land dispossession of the Bangsamoro and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and to recommend appropriate actions to address them. This is part of implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed in 2014.

The Commission was headed by a technical adviser from the Department of Foreign affairs of Switzerland with two member-party from each of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Simultaneously, a series of listening processes headed by Prof. Rufa Guiam was also done in the BARMM. The Commission then submitted its first report with recommendations and  road map for transitional justice in the Bangsamoro to the government and MILF panel. 

In the subsequent ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, there were two important provisions under article 9 on Basic Rights regarding  TJ. 

Article lX



SEC.1. Transitional Justice. The Bangsamoro Parliament, taking into account the report of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission, shall enact a transitional justice mechanism to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people and the indigenous peoples, such as historical injustices, human rights violations, and marginalization  through unjust dispossession of territorial and proprietary rights and customary land tenure.


SEC.2. Reparation for Unjust Dispossession – The Parliament shall enact laws  providing for adequate reparation to the Bangsamoro people affected by unjust dispossession of territorial and proprietary rights or customary land tenure, which may include payment of just compensation to and relocation of such people. No land title issued by the National Government under the Torrens System shall be invalidated.

Since the establishment of BARMM after the plebiscite in 2019, transitional justice and reconciliation became an increasingly important topic for actors from both the political spectrum as well as civil society.

Transitional Justice and Reconciliation (TJR) is one of the major components of political normalization that was adopted in the BARMM after signing into law and ultimately, ratifying of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on January 21 and February 6, 2019. 

Its intent is to “address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro, promote social healing, reconciliation, and cultural harmony in the Bangsamoro, and resolve land dispossession issues and boundaries” among others (Guiam, 2020).  

There are efforts in the National government and the BARMM.   Unfortunately, it is the TJ pillar of normalization that is moving painfully slow. While some components of the normalization process such as the development of the MILF camps, decommissioning and security aremoving forward, the other pillars are hardly moving such as confidence building including amnesty and specially TJ.

This is one question this conference can ask: why? Is it not a priority? Is healing and reconciliation and justice not important? We have always believed that TJR is in the heart of the peace process but why is it moving too slow?

Pending  bills in Congress: Lower House and the Senate

House Bill (HB) 5669 was filed by congressman Jose Christopher Belmonte during the time of PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte). This was refiled by JCT Belmonte and Amihilda Sangcopan under HB 4003: An Act creating for the purpose the National TJR Commission for the Bangsamoro.

Senate Bill 1913: “Transitional Justice and Reconciliation for the Bangsamoro and IPs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” introduced by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Senate Bill 2420 which later became Republic Act 11696 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2022.  Signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on 13 April 2022, RA 11696 provides compensation to three kinds of claimants: those whose properties were destroyed and those who lost their loved ones during the five-month war between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group in 2017; and those whose properties were demolished during the implementation of the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Program. 

Resolutions in the BTA: Bangsamoro Parliament initiatives

Resolution No. 56: Calling for the creation of the NTJRCB and formulation and implementation of a national TJR program for the Bangsamoro

Resolution No. 58: Calling for the creation of the Transitional Justice and

Reconciliation Commission in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim


Resolution No. 62: Requiring all ministries and offices including schools to initiate

and develop comprehensive policies, programs, and activities every March 18 in

commemoration of the anniversary of Jabidah Massacre as [a] transitional justice


Resolution No. 63: A resolution calling on the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) to integrate mandatory curricula on the history of Bangsamoro struggle and human rights education in the draft Bangsamoro Education Code as a transitional justice approach towards healing and reconciliation in the Bangsamoro. 

The Bangsamoro Education Code now under Section 56 provides for the  Integration of Bangsamoro People’s History, Culture and Identity into the curriculum of all education levels in the BARMM education system.

The ICCMN: EO 79

In the implementation of the annex on Normalization, the administration of PRRD issued EO 79 which created the (Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism for Normalization (ICCMN) to lead the implementation of the recommendations of the TJRC which don’t require passing a law (low hanging fruits) including transitional justice. This is to address the Legitimate Grievances, correct Historical Injustices, to address Human Rights violation and marginalization through land dispossession towards healing and reconciliation.

The primary objective of a transitional justice policy is to end the culture of impunity and establish the rule of law in a context of democratic governance.

Today, we will discuss further about these development in the TJR initiatives with lined-up speakers who are well versed on these issues. You will definitely not go home empty handed.

Forum ZFD and GIZ-CPS PH organized this national conference on transitional justice in the BARMM in Davao City to bring  to bring together approximately 200 participants from the Philippines and other relevant countries.

The general consent is that the right to truth, right to justice, right to reparation, and guarantee of non-recurrence is imperative to a lasting peace in the region.  

ZFD and GIZ-CPS understand that a whole-of-society approach is needed to contribute to healing and reconciliation. 

Therefore, this conference aims to make transitional justice a priority topic for political key actors and civil society organizations by highlighting it publicly and giving a voice to those affected by the previous and ongoing conflicts in BARMM. Next to raising awareness, the platform shall give key actors an opportunity to exchange with, learn from, and capacitate others in a holistic and inclusive way. Together, the participants will develop policy recommendations to define concrete next steps in the transitional justice process within and outside BARMM.