B’moro commish taps NGOs for public consultations-A A +A
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
ILIGAN CITY -- Pressed with time, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is tapping civil society organizations in Mindanao to conduct public consultations to solicit inputs from communities and sectors for drafting the Basic Law.
The Basic Law will serve as charter of the future Bangsamoro government that will replace and have far greater political and economic governance powers than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) to address the clamor for a meaningful Moro self-determination.
Drafting the Basic Law is the principal role of the BTC which was created by President Aquino December last year. The BTC is also mandated to conduct public education and consultation activities.
“The various stakeholders, both rights-based and interests-based, and the people at large have to be engaged, informed, and their views sought in the writing of the Basic Law,” said Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator and BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal.
“I believe that some of the best ideas are down there among the people and these cannot be accessed until we engage them with sincerity and frankness,” Iqbal added.
Iqbal said that he was authorized by the BTC to enter into a partnership with civil society groups through an Oct. 4 resolution of the 15-member all-Bangsamoro body.
Memo of agreement
During the kick off rites of the 41st exploratory meeting in Kuala Lumpur last Oct. 8, Iqbal announced the BTC’s plan before the peace panels and the International Contact Group.
The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the BTC and the civil society organizations (CSOs) is slated Oct. 17 in Cotabato City.
“These CSOs will help the BTC in reaching out to the people, as a necessary component of the process in the crafting of the Basic Law, without prejudice to the BTC’
s prerogative to engage other entities to undertake the same activities,” Iqbal said.
“More importantly, the BTC would still do the most crucial and overall public engagement especially those involving key players and agencies in government,” he added.
The upcoming comprehensive peace agreement between government and the MILF will principally guide the formulations in the Basic Law. Such peace pact will consist of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) plus its annexes on transitional modalities, wealth-sharing, power-sharing and normalization.
Up for negotiations
Of the four FAB annexes, power-sharing and normalization are still up for negotiations. The parties are upbeat they can conclude a full peace pact before the year ends.
Iqbal said the delay in coming up with the remaining annexes, especially on power-sharing, “seriously impedes the working timeline of the BTC in crafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”
Iqbal noted the advice of three congressmen observer back in August for the BTC to come up with a draft Basic Law by January 2014 so that Congress will have ample time to consider and pass the enabling legislation for it.
Reps. Pangalian Balindong, Rufus Rodriguez and Jesus Sacdalan graced the 39th exploratory talks as observers last August.
During his State of the Nation Address last July, President Aquino asked Congress to pass the Basic Law before the end of 2014.
The Bangsamoro transition roadmap as agreed by the Parties targets early 2015 for holding a plebiscite to ratify the Basic Law and define the territorial scope of the future autonomous entity.
Aquino, who has vowed to make peace with Moro rebels one of his presidential legacies, wanted the Bangsamoro government established within his term of office.
If the Basic Law is ratified mid-2015, elections for new set of regional leaders can be held along with the national synchronised schedule on May 2016. When the elective officials assume office by noon of June 30, 2016, the Bangsamoro shall have been entrenched.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 16, 2013.