MAJORITY of students who attended yesterday’s debate on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) opposed the government’s initiative to pass it.

The Capitol Social Hall was filled with law and political science students and members of various student councils from Cebu colleges and universities to participate in the discussion as part of the Bangsamoro Peace Festival.

When asked if they wanted the law to be passed, most hands went up.

Chao Cabatingan, a member of the Academy of Political Management, the group that organized the debate, said they wanted to raise public awareness on the importance of Bangsamoro attaining genuine autonomy.

Background

The Bangsamoro “dream” began during the ceasefire agreement in 1997 between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and from then on negotiations started between government and front’s representatives.

The debate focused on whether Congress should pass BBL before 2016.

“Gituyo namo (We did it on purpose) to hold here the Bangsamoro Peace Festival because we feel there is a great resistance here (Cebu) on BBL,” Cabatingan said.

He said most of the people here are not aware that residents of areas soon be covered by Bangsamoro are victims of injustice.

Change of heart

Jo Borces, a student from the University of San Jose-Recoletos, said they initially opposed the BBL, but they later realized its importance and now support it.

Atty. Mohammad Al-amin Julkipli, legal team member of the government peace panel for the MILF, said the Bangsamoro Transition Commission was first formed before the BBL was submitted to Congress.

Once the bill is passed, residents covered by Bangsamoro will have to ratify it through a plebiscite. Once the bill is ratified, residents will elect their ministers, and the elected ministers will choose a chief minister.

The peace festival was organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a private non-profit German foundation committed to the ideals and basic values of social democracy. OCP