BBL and Federalism are Better Options to End Mindanao Conflict for Zamboanga CSOs

Around 75 members of the Zamboanga City sector groups see the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and Federalism as the solution to the century-old conflict in Mindanao. 

In a sector dialogue on BBL and Federalism vis-à-vis the threat of violent extremism and terrorism, organized by the Cotabato City-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), through its Enhancing Political Dialogue for Inclusive Peace in the Bangsamoro (EnPold) project on Monday, October 23, they gathered the representatives from the academe, professionals, women, Indigenous Peoples (IPs), Ulama and other religious leaders to present to them the fresh updates on the BBL and Federalism. The Zamboanga (ZABIDA) is the partner organization of IAG in the city in the implementation of the latter’s project.

Vandrazel M. Birowa, EnPold Project Coordinator said that “the project aims to provide a credible arena for political dialogue to build consensus and ownership of the political reforms and peace process as key to sustainable and inclusive peace,”

Resource Speaker Atty. Benedicto R. Bacani, IAG Executive Director challenged the participants to continue to understand the problem in Mindanao and find common ground in their respective communities and likewise help in the continuing dialogue.

One of the top agenda of the current administration is the shifting of the current unitary form government to federal form. In the federalism, it provides power to local government including the power to establish courts, implement business regulations and impose taxes while the unitary form of government, the decisions come from the central government in Manila.

With this current political set up, the areas outside Metro Manila especially the island province of Mindanao is left behind in terms of resources which some believe are the cause of armed struggle of the Moro people in the region.

“Federalism is possible with the President Duterte’s push and the change of constitution will happen within the six years,” Atty. Bacani said.

Fr. Angel C. Calvo, the Chairperson of the ZABIDA said that we should continue searching for the political formula to ends the Mindanao conflict.

“In Europe, there is no BBL but there are Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)…we need to pass the BBL this will help solve the governance in Mindanao and increase the self-governance of the Bangsamoro,” he said who is also the lead convener of the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) based in Zamboanga City.

Sheikh Zayd Ocfemia president of the Assunah Foundation said that the federalism will not contradict with BBL in solving the Bangsamoro problem. “Both federalism and BBL are the solution to Bangsamoro problem,” he said.

For Prof. Ali Yacub, president of the Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates (GCCPBA) he wanted that the BBL should be approved first before the federal. “BBL is a hard work then we continue with it and see the outcome. Pass first the BBL because there will be a lot of opportunities in Mindanao,” he said adding that “federalism can be a good mother to BBL in the long run,”

IAG is also expected to visit the island provinces in the region to conduct the same activity. (Albert F. Arcilla/Peace Advocates Zamboanga) 

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