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The rationale of the activity anchors on the assertion that the proposed BBL can gain massive support in the legislature, if it is thoroughly understood. Thus the workshop was designed as arena for generating collective understanding among the Bangsamoro representatives, the members of the expanded BTC, and the congressional staff through in-depth conversation and discussions on the newly drafted basic law.

The workshop was attended by three Moro bloc Representatives, namely; Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema of the 1st district of Maguindanao, Congresswoman Ruby Sahali of the lone district of Tawi-Tawi, and Congressman Ansaruddin Adiong of the 1st district of Lanao del Sur.

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Series of discussions and lectures on the newly drafted proposed basic law engaged more than 50 congressional staff of the House of Representatives. The overarching purpose is to help the Expanded BTC and the Congress explore ways to address the questions and concerns being thrown at the BBL. The workshop also enabled the participants locate the critical role of the BBL under the current political policy, and security environment.

Substantive inputs and knowledge sharing emanated from separate discussions with expert resource persons providing in-depth analysis on pertinent topics.
The first discussant explored the history of Mindanao conflict – focusing on the Bangsamoro history and the assertion of the right to self-determination. The timeline of the peace agreements entered into by the government and the Bangsamoro fronts was presented by Atty. Jose Lorena, one of the Commissioners of the Expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

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Atty. Lorena concluded his presentation, thus: “Charter Change is a golden opportunity to find a just and comprehensive political solution to the problem in Southern Philippines”. He believes that in the current Mindanao Peace Process there must be transitory political arrangement within the framework of the current unitary constitution leading towards a new enabling law. However, he added that, it will not fully encompass the Bangsamoro right to self-determination because “…only Constitutional Change towards Federalization, where Home Rule is recognized, answers (satisfies) the Bangsamoro right to self-determination”.

For the second discussion, Atty. Nabil Tan, Deputy Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, traced back the history and issues of the Mindanao peace process by presenting the timeline of the GPH-MILF peace process. He also presented the prospective roadmap if BBL pushes through. He stressed: “By April 2022, the election of the first Bangsamoro Government will take place if BBL pushes through”.

The third presentation by Atty. Al Julkipli, Consultant of the United Nations Development Programme, focused on the overview of Political and Territorial Autonomy for Muslim Mindanao, covering the proposed Bangsamoro core territory, and the main differences of the ARMM and the envisioned Bangsamoro.

According to him: “The proposed Bangsamoro core territory will include; a) the present geographical area of ARMM; b) 6 Municipalities in the province of Lanao del Norte; c) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela; d) 39 barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap in North Cotabato; and e) those qualified for inclusion in the plebiscite, by way of resolution or petition”.

Towards the end of the 3-day workshop, Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema appealed for the support and lobbying of the proposed BBL in Congress, in order to maximize the efforts of the Bangsamoro people to exercise their call for autonomy and the right to self-determination.

The activity was spearheaded by the Office of the Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema, implemented under the Enhancing Political Dialogue for Inclusive Peace in the Bangsamoro project of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), and in partnership with the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives.