In a sectoral dialogue on BBL and Federalism vis-à-vis the threat of violent extremism and terrorism, organized by the Cotabato City-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) through its Enhancing Political Dialogue for Inclusive Peace in the Bangsamoro (EnPold) project on Monday, October 23, gathered the representatives from the academe, professionals, women, Indigenous Peoples (IPs), Ulama and other religious leaders to present to them the fresh updates on the BBL and Federalism. The Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA) is the partner organization of IAG in the city in the implementation of the latter’s project.

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Vandrazel M. Birowa, EnPold project coordinator said that, “the project aims to provide a credible arena for political dialogue to build consensus and ownership of the political reforms and peace process as key to sustainable and inclusive peace.”


Resource Speaker Atty. Benedicto R. Bacani, IAG Executive Director challenged the participants to continue to understand the problem in Mindanao and work on common ground for collaboration in their respective communities, and likewise help in sustaining the dialogue.


One of the top agenda of the current administration is the shift from the current unitary form of government to a federal setup. Whereas in the unitary form, major governmental decisions emanate from the central government in Manila; the federal setup on the other hand provides power to local government, including the power to establish courts, implement business regulations and impose taxes.

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In the current political set up, the areas outside Manila, especially the island provinces of Mindanao are left behind in terms of access to resources, which some believe is one of the major the causes of armed struggle of the Moro people in the region.

 

“Federalism is possible with President Duterte’s push, and Charter Change will happen within the six years.” Atty. Bacani said.


Fr. Angel C. Calvo, chairperson of ZABIDA and lead convener of the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) based in Zamboanga City, said that we should continue searching for the political formula to end the Mindanao conflict.


“In Europe, there is no BBL but there is an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)…we need to pass the BBL, this will help solve the governance problem in Mindanao and increase the self-governance of the Bangsamoro,” Fr. Calvo said.


Sheikh Zayd Ocfemia president of the Assunah Foundation, said that federalism will not contradict with BBL in solving the Bangsamoro problem. “Both federalism and BBL are the solution to Bangsamoro problem,” he said.


Prof. Ali Yacub, president of the Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates (GCCPBA), wanted that the BBL should be approved first before the shift to the federal form. “Pass first the BBL because there will be a lot of opportunities in Mindanao,” he said, adding that “…federalism can be a good mother to BBL in the long run.” By Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance Inc. (ZABIDA).