The Dialogue on House and Senate Bills on BBL was conducted last 20 August 2015 in order to discuss, examine and compare the previous bills on BBL to the original one drafted by the MILF. Atty. Benny Bacani of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance opened the event and welcomed the participants in the small gathering of friends, experts and leaders to conduct conversations about the BBL.
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Titon Mitra, the United Nations Development Programme Country Representative, stated in his message, that the country (the Philippines) is approaching a continuing process of nation building which is not static but rather dynamic in process. The issues discussed in the peace process, are issues discussed for 17 long years and are being considered and negotiated between the place of conflict, and of all the Filipinos in the form of the framework agreement, then the comprehensive agreement and finally the draft BBL.
Mitra also stressed that the law to be passed should withstand the constitutionality test. The substantive issue of concern and opportunities are thoroughly included in the democratic process. He then expressed his support to the search for meaningful autonomy in the bangsamoro and hopes that the country is in the direction of lasting peace.
Benedikt Seeman, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Country Representative, cited that the people are scared of the peace process, the BBL and the autonomous region thinking that the BBL is a constitution and trying to build a separate state. Hence, he mentioned countries having independent states and assured that those entities are not separatist and are not a danger to their respective countries or administrators. He said: “…the BBL is also a reflection of a distinct regional identity and the Philippines as a country. The bangsamoro or BAR is not an LGU nor a separate state. It is something in between”.
He also added that another thing scaring the public is the thought that it is the MILF wanting the separate state where in fact, we have to consider many stakeholders. Among them are the indigenous people, Christian settlers and anyone who will be part in the bangsamoro. Having said that, Seeman is hopeful that country will be able to make a major progress this year or the years to follow for the peace process to continue.
Furthermore, Atty. Bacani proposed three assertions that will animate to the round table discussions in order to focus on the substantive and the critical issues. The assertions are the following:
- Not all provisions of the BBL is created equal
- Frameworks, interests, assumptions and drivers than entrenched positions
- BBL now and the future
In attendance to the event were Sulu Vice Governor Abdulsakur Tan Sr., Atty Ishak Mastura, Timuay Alim Bandar (TJG), Santos Unsad (TJG), International observers and the participants from the Senate Economic Planning Office (SEPO). The event was made possible through the initiative of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, United Nations Development Programme, and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in partnership with Pro PolitiCS for Peace, Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA), Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF) and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID).