COTABATO CITY – Various civil society organizations (CSOs), which attended the presentation of the R.A. 11054, or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, have expressed unity in pushing for the implementation of the new law.
The Wednesday event was attended by ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, Susana Anayatin of Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and Dato’ Kamarudin bin Mustafa, Malaysian facilitator for the Bangsamoro peace talks. It was organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process represented, by Undersecretary Nabil Tan and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, represented by its vice chairman, Mohagher Iqbal.
Hashim Manticayan, speaking on behalf of 64 CSOs under the League of Bangsamoro Organizations, traces the so-called ‘Moro problem’ from post-colonization era. Since those years, he said, the Moro has been marginalized in the aspects of political, socio-economic, and cultural issues.
“The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is the blood of tens of thousands of martyrs and soldiers who lost their lives for the present and future generations to live a peaceful life,” said Manticayan, pertaining to the decades-long struggle of the Moro people.
It was underscored that the BOL is important especially for the youth. “This is for the youth and for the future generations of Bangsamoro because they will be the ones who will reap all these benefits,” he added.
Froilyn Mendoza, a non-Muslim who advocates indigenous peoples’ and women’s rights, said there is still much work to do as she called for the people to vote in affirmation in the coming plebiscite. “BOL must be given flesh and spirit and must be ratified by the people so that the aspiration of our long suffering people will be heard in order to make a change in their lives,” she said.
Hataman praised the stakeholders’ unity in attaining this milestone. “Inabot natin ang puntong ito dahil nagkaisa tayo. Inabot din natin ang puntong ito dahil marami sa ating mga kapatid at kababayan ang nagsakripisyo,” he said.
It was earlier noted that R.A. 11054 is a better piece of legislation compared with R.A. 9054, which created the ARMM government. “Kung nagkaisa tayo noon sa ngalan ng ating aspirasyon, kung nagkaisa tayo kahapon sa ngalan ng Bangsamoro interest, nandito na ang panibagong bukas. Magkaisa muna tayo at tignan natin ang kinabukasan ng batas na ito,” Governor Hataman said.
He also posed a challenge to the future leaders of the region. “Sa mga darating na mamamahala sa Bangsamoro alam ko maganda ang framework at batas natin ngayon kumpara sa R.A. 9054 pero ang challenge sa ating lahat, maganda man ang ating sasakyan pero ang kailangan natin ay mahusay na driver at pasahero.”
ARMM throws full support to BOL
Hataman also urged the Bangsamoro people to extend their full support to the incoming regional government that will help end the decades-long armed conflict and violence in the region.
President Rodrigo Duterte marked the passage of the law with its ceremonial signing in Malacañang on August 6. As agreed upon by the bicameral conference committee, the new political entity will replace the ARMM and will be known as Bangsamoro in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The law signifies the closure of armed conflict between the MILF, representing the Moro people, and the Philippine government, according to Iqbal. “Now that we have the BOL, more than anything else, this is for the youth, for the future generations of the Bangsamoro. They will be the ones who will reap all these benefits,” he said.
With the creation of the new entity that seeks to address the historical injustices in the Bangsamoro, Peace Process Undersecretary Nabil Tan reiterated that the BOL is a better legislation compared with the old ARMM Organic Law, or Republic Act 9054.
“This is not less than ARMM, and this is for the hope of the Bangsamoro people to bring long-lasting peace in Mindanao,” USec. Tan said. He also lauded Governor Hataman for changing the negative image of ARMM as an institution into a good one.
Many have doubted and lost confidence in the region, but Hataman improved the organizational structure of the regional government as part of his reform agenda significantly eliminating irregularities that led to the purging of ghost employees.
USec. Tan noted that during his term as ARMM vice-governor in 1993-1996, the region has only P5 million in annual budgetary allocations. During Gov. Hataman’s administration, the region’s annual budget increased and is pegged at P33.569 billion this year.
“Ito ay dahil pinilit natin na patunayan na hindi totoo ang miskonsepsyon na walang karapat-dapat at hindi kaya ng isang Moro ang mamuno at ngayon nagkaroon muli sila ng tiwala sa Bangsamoro,” Hataman said.
The establishment of the new Bangsamoro entity, he said, does not mean the abolition of the ARMM government.
“Hindi ito pagbubura ng ARMM, hindi rin ito pagbubura ng negosasyon ng nakaraan. Kung hindi nakita natin ang kahinaan ng iilan sa nakaraan at pangangailangan na magkaroon ng panibagong sistema sa loob ng Bangsamoro. Kung nagkaisa tayo noon sa ngalan ng aspirasyon at nagkaisa tayo sa ngalan nang interes ng Bangsamoro, magkaisa muli tayo at tingnan ang kinabukasan ng batas na ito,” Hataman said.
He also recognized the efforts of Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari in pushing for the creation of the autonomous region in southern Philippines, following the signing of the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 that called for autonomy for 13 provinces and 9 cities in Mindanao.
And Hataman encouraged the new political leaders to continue serving the interest of the Bangsamoro people. “Sa mga darating na mamahala, alam ko mas maganda ang framework ng batas natin ngayon kumpara sa R.A 9054 pero ang challenge at hamon sa lahat ay gaano man kaganda ang sasakyan, ang higit na kailangan ay magaling na driver at mga nagkakaisang pasahero,” he said.
A 59-year old resident of Cotabato City, Mohammad Abdulmajid, said he will vote ‘yes’ in the plebiscite to become part of the new Bangsamoro entity. “Panahon na para magkaisa tayong lahat at matuldukan na ang kaguluhan dito sa Mindanao,” he said.
Although Cotabato City is not part of ARMM, but many Muslim residents here wanted to join the new autonomous region. (Bureau of Public Information)
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