MNLF and BASULTA Civil Society Speak Out on the BBL and the Peace Process

Written by Pro Politics for Peace.

In the forum conducted last May 12, 2015  in Jolo, Sulu, Mr. Habib Mujahab Hashim of the MNLF Islamic Command Council strongly announced that the BBL is “…a violation of the agreement signed by the Philippine government starting from the 1976 and 1996 Final Peace Agreement”. He added that the BBL, “…which is the implementing law of the CAB is a product of the conspiracy and treachery between the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”
A peace advocate resonated Hashim’s idea and commented that “…the failure of the ARMM governance is due to the non-implementation of the major provisions, as stipulated in the 1996 Final Peace Agreement…”
Similarly, Dr. Samsula J. Adju, the President of Sakayan Mindanao, Inc., who admitted to have voluntarily served Nur Misuari, questioned the sincerity of the Philippine government in its negotiation with the MILF. He alleged that it “…blatantly entered into an agreement with the MILF on the same subject matters without even consulting the MNLF.”   He asked: “Is there good faith when you deal with two parties on the same subject matters?”  
Hashim then announced that “…the position of the MNLF Islamic Command Council and the MNLF as a whole (is) not to recognize BBL…”
These are some of the major issues raised by the Moro National Liberation Front and the civil society during the forums conducted by the Pro Politics for Peace Project on April 29, 2015 in Zamboanga City and on May 12, 2015 in Jolo, Sulu. The Pro Politics for Peace is a project led by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), in partnership with the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Alliances (ZABIDA), and Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF). 
In a position paper submitted by the President of the Moro Reform Movement, Prof. Abubakar B. Mohammad, he lamented: “More than three hundred billion pesos was said to have been appropriated for the ARMM since its establishment in 1989 but no trace where the great bulk of the money had gone…”. He alleged that the money has been corrupted by some Moro leaders (who have been) responsible for making the ARMM (into) a “milking cow”. 
The forum generated four (4) dominant issues:
The non-inclusion of the Sabah claim in the BBL. Sulu Sultanate’s claim over Borneo is a public knowledge. The non-inclusion of this issue in the BBL has been questioned. Such is highlighted in the forum, considering the fact that the several Sultans and heirs now residing in Sulu are the successors-in-interest on the matter. 
The change of name of Sulu Sea to Bangsamoro Waters.  There was apprehension that the creation of the Bangsamoro Waters will be at the expense of changing the name of Sulu Sea, and slicing-off its original geographic area.  Thus the question: “What is the historical basis for changing the name”?
Identities of the tribes. The Bangsamoro is constituted by several tribes and societies that embody their respective unique characteristics and rich historical narratives. Each reside in their particular provinces, such as the Tausugs of Sulu, the Maranaos of Lanao Del Sur, the Maguindanaos in Maguindanao, the Samas in Tawi-Tawi, and the Yakans in Basilan. These specific and unique identities need to be considered in the BBL, such as for example, the formation of provincial autonomies.
Minimal public consultation. The lack of widespread public hearings and consultations on the BBL has been the recurring complaint of public officials and MNLF (Misuari) leaders. This, despite the insistence from OPAPP that the peace panels have conducted more than five hundred (500) consultations throughout the country.
Prior to this, the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) conducted several forums in late 2014 up to February 2015. Related issues came-out as follows:
What is the status of the 42 consensus points from the tripartite review of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF
Is abolishing the ARMM also abolishing the 1996 FPA?
How decommissioning will proceed given that the people hold on to their guns for protection?
What awaits the Badjaos under the Bangsamoro, on the matter of inclusivity? 
“We will go for NO in the plebiscite because we in Tawi-Tawi are not represented in the BTC? We are not recognized.” 
Finally, Prof. Mohammad suggests “We are not hopeless. I believe His Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino III is sincere in his advocacy to give justice, peace and development to the Filipinos including, of course, the Moros or Bangsamoro who are still part and parcel citizens of the Republic of the Philippines.”

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