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Entitled “Forum on the Local Issues and Concerns of the BBL,” the event gathered 100 key stakeholders in Maguindanao last February 13, 2018 at the BBGM, Buluan, Maguindanao and was co-facilitated by the Insitute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS) through the EnPolD Bangsamoro project of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG).

Engr. Abdulwahab Tunga, Provincial Administrator, welcomed and encouraged the participants to actively participate and share their insights and concerns on the provisions in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). He highlighted that, “not everybody was informed about the content of the BBL, and so this forum will help us understand the common issues and concerns in the proposed law”.

“The very purpose of the Provincial Government in holding the forum is for the welfare of the people to have a well-informed understanding on the current peace process,” he added.

Three panel discussant shared a substantive inputs and discussions to the participants. The first resource person is Dr. Abdul M. Lantong, who shared the brief History of the Bangsamoro Resistance against Foreign Colonialism. Followed by Engr. Muhajirin Ali, who discussed the general overview of the new proposed BBL, and finally, Commissioner Mohagher Iqbal of the expanded BTC highlighted the concerns and issues in the BBL.

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Consequently, Commissioner Iqbal presented the pertinent issues that surfaced after the public presentation of the new proposed BBL, and these are the following:

a. Opt in provision
b. Parliamentary form of government (“taldas na BBL”, asymmetric and parity of esteem, Bangsamoro is not Islamic but not against Islam)
c. Bangsamoro Police (Pres. Duterte wants only 1 Police in the country, needs more info about the provisions of the proposed BBL)
d. Bangsamoro Civil Service Office
e. Bangsamoro Auditing Office
f. Bangsamoro Electoral Office (Parliamentary)
g. Bangsamoro Human Rights Office
h. IPRA on IP rights (BBL has better provisions about the rights of the IPs)
i. Wali
j. Automatic Appropriation on Bangsamoro Government
k. Shariah Justice System (also functioning regular courts)
l. Bangsamoro waters (Municipal 15 Km, Territorial 15 nautical miles/22.22 km, Exclusive Economic Zone, International Waters)

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With the present situation that the new administration is pushing for federalism, there is a prevailing apprehension on the passage of the BBL. However, for Commissioner Iqbal, he explained that “passing federalism is harder than passing BBL so the situation might become better if federalism comes first. But passing BBL is better so we can use it as a template of federalism”.

With the in-depth discussion and knowledge sharing, the participants have vowed to work together in sustaining the advocacy of the passage of the BBL, and considering the management of expectations of the people, should the BBL passage will be delay or not passed in Congress.