THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) issued Resolution No. 10425, which sets December 7 to January 19 as the campaign period for the January 21, 2019 plebiscite to ratify Republic Act 11054 (Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-OLBARMM) within the core territory. OLBARMM or Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is a product of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB).
To review, the CAB was signed last March 27, 2014 in Malacañang between the government and MILF peace panels. The CAB aims to address the Bangsamoro’s expression of the right to self- determination through two tracks, political involvement and normalization. The political track aims to introduce ways for the establishment of Bangsamoro Government, including socio-economic programs and transitional justice mechanisms.
The over-all objective of this agreement is to address historical injustice and heal wounds from past conflicts in Mindanao. In my previous articles, I discussed the general overview of the existing nature of post-conflict peace-building in Bangsamoro. This time I will examine the opportunities and challenges of the BOL to the people of Mindanao.
One of the opportunities that the BOL presents is ending the more than four decades of military conflict. According to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the war in Mindanao has cost the Philippine government a staggering P2.013 trillion during the 31-year period from 1970 to 2001.
The BOL also aims to establish regional peace and stability in Southeast Asia. Last 2017, the Special Asean Defense Ministers issued a statement Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), Radicalization and Terrorism. The statement states, “Increase cooperation and collective efforts in the spirit of Asean solidarity in countering terrorism and violent extremism which are common threats to Asean.
According to one study, “over the last year in Southeast Asia many radical groups have been pledging loyalty to the Islamic State to extend their influence throughout the region”. This threat requires a collective effort of the Asean leaders to create programs and initiatives that counter these narratives.
After the ratification of the BOL, the next step is the building and rebuilding of the structural apparatus of the state in a post-conflict situation. Critical in this stage is balancing efforts, especially directed towards the building of trust, confidence, and accountability between Philippine government and the Bangsamoro constituents.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is responsible in crafting the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the BOL (transition from Armm to Barmm), regional taxation, education framework, and others.
As stakeholder of the Bangsamoro, we need to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate peacebuilding activities in the aftermath of the conflict. Alongside of this is the normalization process for the changes that are happening. Normalization is a process whereby communities in the Bangsamoro can achieve their desired quality of life in a peaceful manner.
People in the Bangsamoro need to look beyond the plebiscite. What vision of the future do you want to achieve? What do we want for our families? It is about time that we, as one Bangsa, discuss the period of transition and the address the challenges ahead. With that, I challenge our Moro communities to dream more, and to dream bigger, for our greater ummah.