MANILA – The enactment into law of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) remains the top recommended action as a means to close the decades-old Bangsamoro armed struggle, according to a report released by the Swiss-led Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).
In the public launch held at the city yesterday, the TJRC report stated that the legislation of a Bangsamoro law that provides for a political and institutional infrastructure pursuant to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) could guarantee the non-recurrence of the Mindanao armed conflict.
“The TJRC recommendations cannot replace a durable peace agreement and its legal framework,” TJRC chairperson Mô Bleeker said. “Solving the Bangsamoro situation in a durable manner offers a unique opportunity for a modern State to manage the diversity inherent in any modern democracy in a constructive manner.”
“Similarly, the Bangsamoro aspire to a political framework, which will enable them to practice good governance, to develop their region and their people, to proudly assert their identity, and to ensure a constructive engagement with their own multiethnic constituency.”
The TJRC also stressed that the implementation of the CAB “is a unique and extraordinary opportunity not only for Bangsamoro, but also for the whole Filipino nation”.
“It offers an opportunity for the historical and cultural resilience of the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples to be recognized as a vibrant and constructive part of the Philippines, based on the acknowledgement of plural identities. This is indeed a historical opportunity for the Bangsamoro and that this is indeed a historical opportunity for the Philippines,” the report stated.
The report was first launched publicly in Cotabato City earlier this week in an event that was attended by Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Government of the Philippines (GPH) chief negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, together with more than 200 individuals, organizations, and representatives from local, regional, national, and international entities.
As stipulated in the CAB, the TJRC was mandated to undertake a study and to make recommendations, based on consultations and expert’s studies, with a view to promote healing and reconciliation among the conflict-affected communities in the Bangsamoro. The said TJRC report was a product of consultations with more than 210 Moro, indigenous, and settler communities in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, involving some 3,000 community members and local officials.
On her remarks delivered at the Cotabato City launched, Deles revealed that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. issued a memorandum of instruction to the OPAPP to put the recommendations in the TJRC report in motion.
According to Deles, the memorandum included the following instructions: “(1) endorse the TJRC Report to the relevant agencies for the agencies’ review and assessment; (2) convene and coordinate with the agencies to work towards the adoption and implementation of the recommendations; and (3) identify and mobilize resources to support the programs that may be implemented. In addition the PAPP is likewise mandated to encourage and initiate activities towards the mainstreaming and popularization of the framework for transitional justice and reconciliation. Finally, the PAPP is required to present a report to the Executive Secretary on her compliance with these instructions.”
Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Andrea Reichlin lauded the TJRC for its significant contribution to the Bangsamoro peace process. “The TJRC makes a number of recommendations that are implementable as of today. But prompt action initiated by the national body is essential to sustain the peace process and mitigate the rising conflicts,” she said.
Meanwhile, GPH peace panel member Secretary Senen Bacani maintained that the BBL is still of primary importance in continuing the peace roadmap which was stalled due to Congress’ failure to enact the Bangsamoro law last February. “We admit that our roadmap to peace has been adversely affected by the non-passage of the BBL in this Congress. Despite this, however, President Aquino himself has made clear that the BBL remains the most suitable path to peace and development in Mindanao.
“And so, we continue to work and hope for the early passage of the bill in the next Congress, so we can move full steam ahead in implementing fully the CAB at the soonest possible time,” Bacani added.
MILF peace panel Abhoud Syed Lingga also noted that there could be a challenge in implementing the recommendations of the TJRC because the BBL, which was a pre-requisite in the execution of the CAB, was not passed. “Although implementation of other provisions of the agreement, including that of the recommendations of the [TJRC] report, cannot replace the BBL. [I]t will be useful in pursuing the peace process that the report’s recommendations will be carried out,” Lingga said.