Where’s justice in BBL? Group asks

Jun. 01, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte received the draft of the newly proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in a turnover ceremony at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on July 17, 2017. Joining the President are (from left) Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Murad Ebrahim, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Ghazali Jaafar, and MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal. (Malacañang file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — While Malacañang lauded the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in both chambers of Congress, a Moro group, on the other hand, expressed doubt the measure would help heal the injustices committed against the Bangsamoro.

“This newly-passed BBL does not inspire hope in our hearts that we of the Bangsamoro will receive justice to set right all the injustices committed against our people,” said Jerome Succor Aba, the national chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro in a statement he issued on Thursday.

Aba reiterated that the Bangsamoro cannot simply put its trust to a decree where justice is not an option.

“We cannot simply forget the price of lives and blood we have paid simply to exist as Moros in a land where we are seen as an inconvenience and a problem,” he added.

The House of Representatives and the Senate approved each of their versions of the BBL in a marathon hearing conducted on Wednesday evening until early morning on Thursday.

At the lower house, a total of 227 members voted in favor of House Bill No. 6475 authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Eleven members of the House cast negative votes while two others abstained.

At the Senate, 21 members approved Senate Bill 1717 or “An Act Providing for the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro and Abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

President Rodrigo Duterte certified the BBL as urgent.

BBL was the outcome of the 2014 peace accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the aim of ending the years of armed conflicts, particularly in Mindanao.

“We seek true autonomy, not the sham we are being offered now with a mangled and watered-down ghost of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Aba pointed out, as he noted that Duterte, in the first place, did not want to certify the measure as urgent.

He also described the passage of the BBL as disparate as both versions were enacted at the 11th hour.

“Duterte’s last-minute turnaround to certify the BBL as an urgent measure does not inspire our trust. Not especially when his BBL sweeps aside our claims for justice for the victims of the Marawi Siege and Martial Law, the recent massacre of the nine MILF combatants and myriad other human rights violations resulting from the continuing operations of the United States-led ‘war on terror’ within Bangsamoro territory,” Aba said.

On top of the questions raised on the significance of the passed BBL is its non-recognition of the right to self-determination and the lack of specific provisions that would convey the Bangsamoro the right to decide within their territories.

“The BBL version passed by Congress is not going to answer the Moro problem,” Aba emphasized, adding that the measure has no distinction with the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

He also expressed the belief that the Bangsamoro political entity recently shaped by Congress will just facilitate the wholesale selling of the territories and natural resources of the Moro people to foreign corporations under the guise of introducing growth and development in their areas.

“For there to be peace, there must be justice. There must be goodwill and the trust that grows from that. You ask us to lay down our arms and work with you. Then you must do the same with us. Any less than a BBL that grants us justice and the autonomy to determine our path within this nation is the insult added to the many injuries we have already had to bear,” Aba’s group asserted.

Suara Bangsamoro also commended the members of the Makabayan bloc in Congress for truly scrutinizing the contents of the BBL and to their fight for the provisions they thought are compromising the fight of the Moro people for their right to self-determination.

“Their vote of no at the congress deliberation is a vote of no to the fake autonomy or the limited capacity of the future Bangsamoro government to protect resources and rights of the Bangsamoro,” the group added.

Aba said their group will continue to be vigilant in their fight for justice, right to self-determination and genuine autonomy.

“We call on all peace-loving people especially our brother and sister Moros to continue working for self-determination, and fight for the justice we need and the peace that we work and pray for daily,” Aba concluded. (davaotoday.com)

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