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CSPPS holds seminar on the implications of the Bangsamoro Organic Law

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by Therese R. Olviga

The Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies (CSPPS) organized a policy seminar on the impacts and implications of the recently ratified Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on March 25, 2019. Dr. Indihra B. Dimaporo-Tawantawan, Campus Head/Superintendent of the Mindanao State University-Lanao del Norte Agricultural College (MSU-LNAC), served as the resource person.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which has been signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on July 26, 2018, is an act “providing for the organic law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) referred to as Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR).” It has been the result of decades of peace talks culminated in a comprehensive agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines in 2014. For Dr. Dimaporo-Tawantawan, the ratification of the BOL implies the following: creation of BARMM replacing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); a chance at genuine self-governance; and the culmination of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s 40-year struggle for autonomy, including on-and-off talks with the government spanning the administration of four presidents.

“The Bangsamoro conflict is one of Asia’s longest running conflicts that dates back to several years ago. Over the years, it has claimed over 120,000 lives,” Dr. Dimaporo-Tawantawan shared. The political tensions between the Government of the Philippines and Moro Muslim rebel groups started with the marginalization produced by continuous resettlement policy sustained at start of Mindanao and Sulu inclusion to the Philippine Commonwealth territory of 1935 and was ultimately triggered by the Jabidah massacre which saw the killing of 60 Filipino Muslim commandos on a planned operation to reclaim a part of Sabah, Malaysia. Tracing the roots of the Bangsamoro conflict, two main subject matters can be identified: land and religion. “The past few years have witnessed the rebellion among the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and MILF and their desire for having a separate state,” she added.

Towards the creation of BARMM, there will be a transition. Dr. Dimaporo-Tawantawan explained that the main five features of the new Bangsamoro Region, as it makes its transition, are as follows: the new Bangsamoro Region will be bigger than ARMM; there will be a Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that will take care of all the issues related to the transition from ARMM to BARMM; the BTA will assume expanded powers and responsibilities in the Bangsamoro Organic Law; the MILF troops is hoped to lay down their weapons; and ARMM will be gradually phased out.

Dr. Dimaporo-Tawantawan added that autonomy is important to the Bangsamoro for two main reasons. First, it will allow the Bangsamoro to address its long withstanding problems of injustice and poverty. Second, the Bangsamoro will be able to exercise their right for self-determination towards the development of political institutions and processes while still preserving their cultural heritage, values, and traditions.

Dr. Dimaporo-Tawantawan also provided information on the contents of the BOL, among this is the preamble which states that the Bangsamoro aspired to establish an enduring peace in the basis of justice, balanced society, and assertion of right to conserve and develop patrimony. This means that the BOL is 1) reflective of their system of life as prescribed by their faith; 2) it is in harmony with their customary laws, cultures, and traditions; 3.) it is within the framework of the Constitution; 4) it affirms their distinct historical identity and birthright to their ancestral homeland; 5) it gives them their right to chair their own political future through democratic processes; and 6), most importantly, it allows for genuine and meaningful self-governance.

Regarding the possible impact of the above mentioned features, Dr. Dimaporo-Tawantawan said that with high hopes, it will end the long struggle of the Bangsamoro in terms of peace, security, poverty, economic development, and resiliency. It is assumed that the BOL will result to greater commitment. She added that for the BARMM to be successful, there really should be cooperation from everyone and that there should be continuous discussions of the law to further know how it will work, what its impacts and implications are, and how it will be sustained in the long-run.

The CSPPS policy seminar is part of the Center’s mandate to promote public awareness on various issues related to governance and policy development. Representatives from the Muslim Ummah Brotherhood Association, staff and students from CPAf, and institutions such as DENR-ERDB attended the policy seminar.

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