The executive director of the non-government policy think tank Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) has urged civil society organizations in Mindanao to sustain the gains of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the event that its legal mechanism Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) shall not be enacted into law when the term of President Aquino ends.

IAG executive director Atty. Benedicto R. Bacani said civil society organizations (CSOs) will make a bigger positive contribution to the peace process if they will help all stakeholders understand the CAB and its details to enable all sectors to help the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front implement it even while its legislative tool goes through the legislative mill. He warned that CSOs’ clamor that Congress pass an undiluted BBL raises false hopes and overly high expectations among the Bangsamoro and other Mindanao constituents which can endanger the whole peace process.

Such high unrealistic expectations will translate into frustrations among some sectors if the BBL will default and may cause the erosion of support for the whole peace process, he told a forum organized by the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) held in Zamboanga City yesterday (December 1).

He said that without the Mamasapano incident earlier this year, the BBL was likely to get the prompt approval of Congress on the strength of the President’s endorsement alone. However, he said, the Mamasapano incident made the BBL an issue of public trust and rendered it politically unpopular so that lawmakers are now wary to support its passage.

He said the CAB by itself represents important gains in the peace process and the MILF is correct in saying that even without the BBL in the meantime it will keep faith with the peace agreement. He said the CAB enables implementation of socio-economic projects to benefit Moro communities already and maintain peace and security with the ceasefire and normalization process.

In the same forum, ISP lead convenor Fr. Angel C. Calvo, CMF raised the immediate concerns of security and normalization, socio-economic development and restorative justice as these relate to the peace process. He said these demands should be realized even in the absence of the BBL or any new autonomy law.

The ISP organized the forum, which was attended by some 200 multi-sectoral representatives, as part of the Week of Peace 2015 celebration. Bacani urged the CSOs to hold the proponents and implementors of the CAB accountable in putting it to work. He said that with the BBL as a wide open public question now, it will take time to pass a good and effective organic act that can also hurdle the required plebiscite.

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