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CSOs call on Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law

MINCODE, the only regional network representing Mindanao in the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), took the lead in engaging members of the largest national coalition of civil society organizations to continue advocating for peace and development. With the wisdom and guidance of the CODE-NGO Board of Trustees and with the able leadership of Ms. Patricia Sarenas, Chairperson of MINCODE and CODE-NGO, the Caucus calls on Congress to stay the course of peace by passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Here is CODE-NGO’s call for the immediate passage of the BBL:

“The Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) calls on the House of Representatives and the Senate to stay the course of peace, continue the deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and faithfully fulfill its duty of ensuring that an effective and inclusive BBL is passed.

It has been a year after the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed. The BBL should remain true to the provisions of the CAB and the aspirations of the people and communities who have steadfastly participated and invested in the peace process and the different existing agreements between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

We call on the public, both in the Bangsamoro and non-Bangsamoro areas, to constructively participate in this process, and to keep ourselves properly informed in this discourse, so we can all contribute to addressing the mutual distrust and biases against the Moros; distrust and biases which are linked to the still very limited knowledge and appreciation of the history of Mindanao and the Bangsamoro.

We condemn in the strongest possible way the efforts of some sectors to derail and stop the passage of the BBL, by spreading confusion and misinformation, stoking biases and prejudices, and harmful politicking, particularly after the ill-fated police operations in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25, 2015.

While we believe that it is important to have a complete and balanced investigation of the Mamasapano incident that would lead to accountability and justice, the process for exacting truth and accountability related to that incident is independent of the process and the gains which have been so far achieved in the Bangsamoro talks. We recognize the integrity of the negotiations and agreements that resulted in the BBL, and the sincerity and good faith of both parties in negotiating for this bill, especially in ensuring that the whole process was transparent and inclusive of all issues and concerns, through the many opportunities created for participation not just for CSOs, but for the public, including Christians, lumads, indigenous peoples, business owners, the media, and Filipinos from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

It is in a climate of peace and development which the BBL can bring that unfortunate armed conflicts can be avoided, like that between MILF and BIFF on 9 February 2015 in Pagalungan, Maguindanao, reportedly associated with clan feuds, which brought 35,000 individuals to flee from their homes, and the AFP operations against the BIFF, started on 27 February, which displaced more than 125,000 evacuees in 15 municipalities in Central Mindanao.
We therefore join the calls of various peace groups for a stop to all kinds of violence and retaliation, which only worsen the impact of the incidents for the poor and vulnerable communities.

We call for “all out peace.” We denounce the prejudices against our fellow Filipino Muslim sisters and brothers. We stand on the silent work being done by many CSOs in communities throughout Mindanao, for sustainable development that can only be achieved if rooted in peace and justice. We stand on the long history of learning with and from these communities, on the complexity of the roots of conflict in Bangsamoro. We will continue to stand with them, as we continue to work towards a peaceful, just and prosperous Philippines.”

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