Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG) executive director Benedicto Bacani said on Friday that the people need to be prepared as the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will give them greater access to self-governance through the parliamentary system.

“If they form their political parties, even if they are CSOs (civil service organizations), even if they are marginalized groups, they will have fighting chance to be part of parliament, and to be part of the governance of the Bangsamoro,” he explained.

“(This is) precisely because you have an election where political platform will matter and not because you’re part of a family or a dynasty, which means that this structure is really an opportunity,” Bacani added.

Bacani made the statement at a program by the Democratic Leadership and Active Civil Society Empowerment (DECLASE) Bangsamoro, a European Union-funded project managed by IAG and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines.

The capacity-building program aims to prepare communities, civil society leaders, and influential figures “for active engagement in the future Bangsamoro political framework through sustained capacity-building efforts.”

CSOs are encouraged to be active in advocating for good governance and government efficiency, in addition to development, peace process, and humanitarian activities.
DELACSE also aims to educate communities on government and democratic processes and all aspects of federalism to make people aware of what they will be voting if and when it reaches plebiscite.

Some 1,000 participants — 55 percent women and 15 percent indigenous peoples — were reached during the program’s 13-month effort to help the Bangsamoro engage in a truly inclusive peace process.

BBL on track

Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) hoped that the passage of BBL would bring Mindanaoans peace and prevent a repeat of the Marawi siege and the Mamasapano massacre.

“The political aspect is going smoothly. We hope that, inshallah, there is no more Marawi, and there is no more Mamasapano forthcoming,” he said.
Hermoso said the “political aspect” of the peace process has to be completed first before the “security side” of it —involving the decommissioning of the arms of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front— can follow next.

“The mechanism in the normalization is working very hard to place everything, the programs (and) projects (on) the doorstep. Once the law is passed, then we can move and hit the ground running,” he said.

Hermoso then read out a statement by OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza, who said the peace process goes beyond signing a peace agreement.

“The road for peace goes way beyond signing peace agreements, and achieving genuine peace takes a long time. It’s a never-ending work of engaging, involving, hearing out the people across all races, rights, class, and location,” the speech read.

“All that’s gathered here today don’t just want to talk, right agreements, or create development projects for the Bangsamoro people. We have come a long way of making it tangible,” it continued.

According to Bacani, regardless of whether the Bangsamoro will come to being under a Federal State or an Autonomous Region, its fate will heavily influence that of the entire country.

“The future of the Bangsamoro is very much tied up with the future of the whole country, and the future of the whole country is very much tied up also with what happens to the Bangsamoro,” he said.

Dureza said on Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to prioritize the passage of BBL while the process of shifting to a federal mode of government rolls on.
Both houses of Congress have yet to deliberate on the BBL draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

Senator Juan Migue Zubiri and the subcommittee on BBL has committed to the third and final reading of the draft at the Senate by March 22.