Official CEAP Statement: In Your Hands, Peace or Otherwise

10-point Agenda for a Bangsamoro Basic Law

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is proposed today not as ordinary legislation. Crafted to do social justice, it emerges from seventeen years of peace negotiations for Muslim Mindanao. It seeks to rectify past errors, to reverse injustices committed in prejudice and hatred against Muslims in Mindanao. It charts a better future for the Bangsamoro peoples and cultures and thus for the People of the Philippines.

Here, our legislators are not only hewers of laws. They are builders of peace. They are architects of our future, their responsibility. Their fragile moment for building peace they ought not squander through absence from crucial legislative sessions, indifference or fear.

The executive branch of our government has done its part to forge lasting peace with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF. This document signals the type of law the legislators need to pass should it support the peace agreement. The extent the provisions of the CAB are actually integrated into the organic law for the Bangsamoro autonomous region is the clear prerogative of the legislators.

But should the legislators or the courts repudiate the peace agreement that the executive forged with the MILF, they take responsibility for the ensuing peace or war into their own hands. They reinforce the manifest commitment to religious inclusiveness, or further expose our nation to international religious extremism.

Building peace, we believe, should be based on the foundation of forged agreements. We believe in the negotiated process that achieved the CAB. Guided now by this agreement and by the dictates of the common good, we respectfully urge both the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass now a Bangsamoro Basic Law that guarantees:

  • Recognition of the Bangsamoro identity and its peoples’ aspirations based on their right to self-determination;
  • Integration of the spirit of the CAB in the proposed legislation in fidelity to the 1987 Philippine Constitution and its mandate for an autonomous region for Muslim Mindanao;
  • Provisions that surpass, not diminish, the provisions of the Expanded Organic Act for the ARMM (RA 9054), further enhancing what Filipino Muslims already enjoy under this law;
  • Genuine autonomy through which the Bangsamoro Government is empowered to lead its peoples to a future they desire based on the genius of their rich culture.;
  • Acceptance of the concept of asymmetrical political entity where the Bangsamoro Government enjoys powers greater than LGUs but fully subject to national governance;
  • Measures to strengthen the Shariah courts and their applicability to the Bangsamoro followers of Islam;
  • Bangsamoro entitlement to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, fees and charges guided by the principles of devolution of powers;
  • A just and equitable share in the revenues generated through the exploration, development and utilization of the natural resources, consistent with the principles of environmental stewardship, within the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro;
  • Full respect and protection for civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights of all the inhabitants including the indigenous peoples, women, children and youth in the Bangsamoro territory and support for the passage of laws that promote, uphold and protect the same; and
  • Transitional justice and normalization clauses, reflective of the spirit and intent of the CAB.

In its social justice thrust, the Constitution mandates the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao. Let this social justice no longer be postponed.

Hear Mindanao! Let the Bangsamoro will to full integration in the Philippines, religious inclusiveness, peace and prosperity for all be respected.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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