ON SATURDAY morning, August 12, I read on a Facebook post of my cousin that Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo filed in the House of Representatives House Bill (HB) 6121, entitled, "An Act Providing for the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and Abolishing the Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao, Repealing for the Purpose Republic Act No. 9054, and Republic Act 6734, and For Other Purposes." Records show that HB 6121 was received by Congress on August 3.
The explanatory note of HB 6121, it stated, "During the State of the Nation Address last 24 July 2017, the President mentioned that in order to achieve just and lasting peace for a unified nation, the government is pursuing an inclusive peace process, promoting the participation of all stakeholders, including those in conflict-affected areas." The note also mentioned Executive Order 08, “The Creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission”, and the creation of an inclusive Bangsamoro government. I was actually stunned when I learned about HB 6121 because it is far different from the draft that we, in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission 2017, submitted to President Duterte on July 17, 2017 at Malacanang Palace.
Under Section 1 of this Bill provides, "Short Title: This Act shall be known as the Basic Act for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BABAR). I realized that the bill that she filed with a short title of BABAR means "stupid, imbecile or dumb" in Maguindanao language. With this title, it is an insult to the Bangsamoro people and the several decades of ongoing peace process between our government and the Bangsamoro people.
According to our legal staff, HB6121 is similar to former Senator Bongbong Marcos' substitute bill SB 2894. Although it is not yet conclusive, HB 6121 and SB 2894 is 90% similar in terms of typographical errors and wrongly numbered provisions.
In my almost twenty years of experience of formal (meaning part of the government) and informal (through my work in UNDP and NGO partners) peace building work, the challenge lies on facing and managing the spoilers. Stephen John Stedman, Senior Research Scholar at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University, defines spoilers as "leaders and parties who believe the emerging peace threatens their power, world view, and interests and who use violence to undermine attempts to achieve it".
He also said, "By signing a peace agreement, leaders put themselves at risk from adversaries who may exploit a settlement, from disgruntled followers who see peace as a betrayal of key values, and from excluded parties who seek either to alter the process or destroy it." The filing of HB 6121 may be considered a clear act of "spoiling" the Bangsamoro peace process
In implementing a peace agreement, peace makers are vulnerable to attack from those who oppose their efforts. And most important, the risks of peace making increase the insecurity and uncertainty of average citizens who have the most to lose if war is renewed. (To be continued tomorrow)