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Bangsamoro Basic Law Signing: Challenges, Shadow and Uncertainties

COTABATO CITY (20th of April) – The draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was completed and signed by 13 of the 15 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). Commissioners Atty. Johaira Wahab, Chair of the Committee on Transitory Provisions, and Fatmawati Salapuddin from Sulu were absent, while Froilyn Mendoza, representative of the indigenous people and Peter Eisma from Basilan signed with reservations. All of them have yet to issue an official statement on their actions. (As of April 29, only one (1) female commissioner has not signed the draft BBL.)

On April 18, 2014, 4-days after the submission of the partial draft of the BBL to the Office of the President, a text message already circulated, claiming that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) was allegedly secretly meeting three commissioners of the BTC asking them not to sign the draft of the BBL. Afterwards it became viral on the social networking sites. People started to doubt the sincerity of the government’s commitment to the peace process.

In the morning of April 20, OPPAP posted the response of the GPH Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the allegations: “The report circulating on social media that 3 BTC commissioners did not sign the draft BBL on orders of OPAPP is FALSE. In the first place, the proposed BBL is not yet finished. They will still meet on Sunday to put all the parts together. Secondly, we had no secret meeting with GPH representatives to the BTC. We meet with them when they want to consult us on their concerns and to ask them to update us. This is natural. The MILF representatives also meet with the MILF Central Committee to consult and update. Thirdly, we gave no instruction to any BTC commissioner not to sign the draft. We trust them to act according to their judgment and the best interest of the peace process. Please help us correct the misinformation”.

On the same day, Luwaran stated related to the signing of the commissioners on the BBL: If by chance, any commissioner decides not to affix his/her signature to the proposed BBL, such is within the purview of his or her right. No one can question that. But one thing sure is that he or she has to explain why he or she did not sign.  History will judge his or her decision. But in the immediate, the negative decision will surely make the spoilers happy; they will feast on this even if the decision was based on reasons personally well-thought-out”.

Before the signing of the draft an estimated 1000 individuals from the communities and civil society organizations gathered in front of the BTC office expressing their support for the signing and demanding unity among the BTC members and the Bangsamoro as a whole. The peace rally was led by United Youth for Peace and Development (UnYPAD).

A female participant of the rally expressed her fears, saying “Akoy nababahala sa mga nangyayari at sa tema na aking nababasa, worried ako dahil baka hindi pirmahan ng BTC ang BBL. “Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit ayaw nilang pirmPhoto0239ahan ang BBL” other women added. (I am worried with what is happening and with what is written in the placards I am reading, I am worried that the BTC will not sign the BBL). (I cannot understand why they do not want to sign the BBL). Many women who joined the rally broke into tears while calling upon the attention of the BTC and urging them to sign the BBL.

We at UnYPhil-Women, who had always been accompanying the peace process and are hopeful to the peaceful resolution of conflict, have yet to understand the commissioners actions. We are not yet in the position to condemn their decisions, because we believe that they have accounted the best interest of the Bangsamoro people.

But we deserve an explanation. We, who are working on the ground and who the government and the MILF expect to disseminate information to the Bangsamoro people. We deserve to know the reasons, because we don’t want to give information that were merely based on assumptions to our communities; likewise, our communities are expecting us to provide them with honest and clear information and feedback on the status of the peace negotiation.

As a woman organization involved in the pursuit of progress and just peace for all, this issue has tainted the hopes of the people for a better tomorrow. Everyone is in high spirits on the recent development of the peace process and with the circulation of an alleged ‘maneuvering’ by the OPPAP on the signing of the draft BBL, everything changes. Gone is the euphoria, all that is left is uncertainty. We would say, this is the time to be vigilant. A time where all of us seeking to realize the Bangsamoro dream should take a stand to commit ourselves in safeguarding the dignity of the process by holding the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission accountable for all their actions and transparent with their decisions.

By: Hasna Adi

United Youth of the Philippines-Women

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A Better Bangsamoro For All: Women`s Contribution to the Bangsamoro Basic Law

Photo 1COTABATO CITY – March 7, 2014 at the EM Manor Hotel, 320 women leaders and representatives from grassroots communities and women’s organizations as well as honorary guests celebrated the International Women’s Day by highlighting the strong commitment of women to achieve “a better Bangsamoro for all”. Women delegates coming from the provinces of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Lanao Del Sur, Lanao Del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Cotabato City, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Davao City, Pagadian City and General Santos City witnessed the formal presentation and turn-over of the women’s recommendation “A Better Bangsamoro for all: Women’s Contribution to the Bangsamoro Basic Law” to members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

The recommendations are the result of 72 consultations jointly conducted by United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women), NisaUl Haqq Fi Bangsamoro (Nisa), Teduray Lambangian Women’s Organization Incorporated (TLWOI) and Bangsamoro Women’s Action for Development Initiatives (BWADI). Around 2,750 Moro, Indigenous Peoples (IP’s) and settlers women participated in the consultations conducted outside and within the core areas of the Bangsamoro territorial claim.

Six representatives from the BTC were present during the summit: Ms. Froilyn Mendoza, IP representative of GPH-BTC, Atty. Johaira Wahab, youngest member of BTC from the GPH, Mr. Talib Benito from GPH-BTC, Abdullah Camlian from MILF together with Atty. Raissa Jajurie, women representative of MILF-BTC and Chairman Mohagher Iqbal.

According to Ms. Froilyn Mendoza, the women’s recommendation arrived timely on March 4, 2014 where the Committee on Fiscal Autonomy is discussing issues on gender and development. “Na pa oo namin ang mga lalaking memPhoto 2bro ng BTC na suportahan ang women’s agenda.” (We were able to convince the male member of the BTC to support the women’s agenda). She cited Ms. Fatmawati Salapuddin, GPH-BTC member “Nagpaliwanag na may ibang pangangailangan tayong mga babae na kaylangang tugunan dahil hindi pantay ang platform na ating kinatatayuan”. (Explained that, because of unequal status quo of women and men in the society, women have special needs which have to be addressed.)

Atty. Johaira Wahab mentioned that the value being reflected during the consultations is not only giving information, but also providing an opportunity for reflection. She then added that the peace process will not be successful without the participation of the community.  Atty. Johaira appealed to the participants of the summit to help the BTC maintaining the integrity, transparency and the inclusivity of the peace process. “Importante na mag usap usap tayo at magkaroon ng pagkakataon na mag-usap kung anong tingin natin sa mga bagay bagay”. (It is important that we talk and discuss our opinion on the issues -was referring to the Bangsamoro peace process.)

Photo3“Naisalang na sa komite kanina ang recommendations ng mga kababaihan” (women’s recommendation was already presented in the committee-morning March 7, 2014) and has been discussed by the commission and is being considered for plenary deliberation. “We have come to recognize that considering the women’s agenda is significant to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The sector of women has something very important to give and women participation is vital for Bangsamoro development”, Atty. Raissa Jajurie said.

The BBL envisions a society promoting and advancing just peace, humanity and environmentally responsive agendas and policies. The framework agreement has already guaranteed the equal opportunity of men and women on access to basic social services like food, employment, education, health etc. and to pursue political aspirations and others. “These rights are similarly guaranteed for women and they are already included in the Bangsamoro Basic Law”, assured Talib Benito.

Abdullah Camlian said that “Ina assure ko kayo na ang karapatan ng kababaihan ay isusulong sa Bangsamoro” (I assured that the rights of women will be supported by the Bangsamoro) and quoted a verse from the Hadith saying “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother”, therefore “walang lalaking hindi susuporta sa mga kababaihan” (All man will always support the women).

Chairman Mohagher Iqbal expressed that their presence at the summit is a manifestation of commitment and dedication to the peace process and he assured that the BTC will look at the relevant recommendations and consider them in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). He referred to the framework agreement where the right of women to participate iPhoto 4n politics is guaranteed including protection from any forms of violence and the allocation of funds for gender and development programs. “The participation of women in the Bangsamoro government in the future is assured”, he added.

Mr. Thomas Phipps of the British Embassy said “women’s participating in the formulation of the comprehensive framework agreement indicates that women are actively taking part in realizing the future. Women have been very helpful in upholding human rights issues, providing education and raising awareness. This experience provides great hope to the people.”

The Women’s Summit: “Celebrating Women’s Commitment for a better Bangsamoro for All”, is the final event of the project on “Entrenching Women’s Participation in the Bangsamoro Basic Law”, which has been led by UnYPhil-Women, NISA, BWADI and TLWOI and co-convened by MWDECC, MWAGG, NOORUS SALAM. Women`s organizations and various agencies provided support and contributed to the crafting and formulation of the recommendation. The project is funded by the British Embassy in the Philippines and coordinated by Conciliation Resources.

By: Hasna Adi

United Youth of the Philippines-Women

Bangsamoro Women get consulted on FAB

Women Participants in Brgy. Malingao, Midsayap North Cotabato.

Women Participants in Brgy. Malingao, Midsayap North Cotabato.

Ano ang magiging kinalaman naming mga kababaihan sa FAB? Ano ang aming makukuha mula dito? Paano? (How we women are related to FAB? What can we get from it? How?)

The above questions are the common concern of local women in communities during the series of consultation on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) among women in grassroots level conducted by United Youth of the Philippines-Women.

The consultation activity is among the programs of UnYPhil-Women in its goal towards meaningful participation of women in the peace process or to be specific the establishment of the Bangsamoro.

Participants

 Participants are mostly women. These women are mothers who are housekeepers and are usually left behind in community activities like forum, trainings, and seminars due to their busy tasks at home- which for UnYPhil-Women these women must be part of these activities because women, these mothers are the caretaker of the society- thus must be part of decision-making in all aspects in their localities.

Youth women also participated in the consultation. They are mostly out- of- school youth while some are studying but are interested to learn on FAB. There are also members of local government units, men and women who joined the consultation.

Participants are of mixed culture and religion- Muslims, Christians and the Indigenous People (IPs) or the Lumads.

Each activity has participants of more or less fifty (50) persons. This number is sufficient enough to ensure that the activity is not crowded thus everyone can listen well to the discussions in the activity.

Target Communities

This series of consultation started on February 2013 in three (3) barangays in the province of North Cotabato namely Brgy. Malingao in Midsayap, Brgy. Balabak in Pikit and Brgy. Manarapan in Carmen.  In Maguindanao, the consultation was conducted in Brgy. Muti of Guindulungan and Brgy. Mirab of North Upi. Women from Barangay Bagua III of Cotabato City also participated in the consultation activity.

The consultation will also take place in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur with the City of Marawi. The team will also be going to the Island provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) like Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

There are three (3) sets of consultation activity in each identified province.

Inputs on FAB

During the series of consultation, women are oriented and educated on the content of the FAB. This includes the basic information on the identity, territory and government of the Bangsamoro as described in the signed agreement.

Common issues and fears of many were explained and answered through the activity, for instance, the fear among non- Muslims that they will be Islamized. Through the consultation, UnYPhil-Women explained that this is not true, that FAB respects the existing culture religion of each group of people included to the to-be-established Bangsamoro.

To explain further, the term Bangsamoro, its history, and the people it identifies according to FAB, was discussed to the participants.

The Bangsamoro

Bangsamoro originated from two (2) words: bangsa (a Malay word means nation) and moro (a term used by Spanish in describing the courageous Moores in Morocco which they used also in describing the people of Mindanao who fearlessly fought against their colonization in the land).

The Shari’ah Law

Another important topic discussed in support to the above mentioned fear among the non-Muslims is on the Shari’ah Law. It was explained that the Shari’ah Law is only for Muslims. ”Shari’ah courts which according to FAB will have expanded jurisdictions like on criminal cases is only applied to the Muslims, while criminal cases among the non-Muslims is handled to the local civil courts of the national government”, told the resource person during the consultation.

Inputs on Women’s Rights

Taking the Magna Carta of Women as basis in providing lecture on the rights of women, UnYPhil-Women discussed the topic on women’s rights. Women learned their rights as women and as humans.

In the discussion, Women Rights is discussed as human rights- which is universal, inalienable and indivisible. “Meaning human rights and your rights as women and as humans are your rights from your first breath and no one can take away those from you”, the resource person said.

Given emphasis among women’s rights is the right of women on participation and representation. “In your question earlier, you women have big role in the FAB, in the peace process and all other aspects. You have the right to participate. According to Magna Carta of Women, women is and must be partners in nation-building because women have unique and special experiences during conflict, during times of crisis thus they have special needs”, told the resource person.

Women are encouraged to participate, to share their ideas and concerns. “You must participate, it is very important that you join in activities like this, in your barangay for instance- because if you don’t, then your concerns will not be heard, the resource person said encouraging the participants.

Group picture during the consultation in North Cotabato

Group picture during the consultation in North Cotabato

Workshops

The consultation activity is conducted with workshops where women actively participated. Through the workshop, women were able to share their personal experiences such as human rights violations on women, their situations in their communities and their specific needs.

Results of the workshops is documented and consolidated by UnYPhil-Women to come up with a unified recommendation to be forwarded and submitted during the “presentation of the project result to both GPH-MILF Panel” in advocating women representation in the peace process.

This series of consultation is a project of UnYPhil-Women which goal is towards adequate and meaningful participation of women in the peace process. This project is implemented in partnership with Oxfam, International Monitoring Team (IMT) through its Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Component (HRDC) and the European Commission.

“I am happy and sad”- Mohagher Iqbal on the Framework Agreement

MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal expressed mixed emotions on the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) between GPH and MILF in a consultation with different civil society organizations held yesterday, October 30 in Cotabato City.

MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal and CBCS Chairperson Guaimel Alim

“I am happy as a person, as a member of the peace panel, and as a member of MILF because I am involved. But at the same time, I am sad. I am happy because we have a destination, I am sad and worried because we have so much to do. But in the end, I am more happy because I trust Allah is with us.” Mohagher Iqbal stated in his opening remarks.

Iqbal was the main speaker at a consultation held at KFI Conference Hall, KFI Compound in Dona Pilar Street that was attended by different Moro Civil Society Organizations headed by Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) and Kutawato Regional Management Committee (KRMC), IP Leaders headed by Timuay Melanio Ulama of Organization of Téduray and Lambangian Conference (OTLAC), national democratic organizations represented by Kawagib Philippines and Kabataan Party, human rights groups and international NGOs.

Iqbal also reiterated that the FAB is not a perfect document but it is the best so far with regards to advancing the right of the Bangsamoro people to self-determination as it builds on prior experiences and fills the gap where earlier documents failed. He called on everyone to give the peace process the benefit of a doubt and consider the FAB as an incremental victory in which steps are still to be taken to build the feasibility of a Bangsamoro identity, territory, and government.

Iqbal considers the FAB as the key to the liberation of the Bangsamoro people, but he was quick to add that it is not instantaneous. According to him, there are four important things to do which are ideological strengthening, political consolidation, socio-economic development, and cultural development. He added that learning from past experiences, they have set up safeguards to ensure the compliance of the central government to the peace process. First is that the Peace Panel will not cease to exist even with the event of signing of a final peace agreement; second is the presence of an international monitoring group and they will only sign an exit agreement upon satisfaction on the proceedings of the peace process; and lastly is that the miscellaneous and annexes of the FAB will be a bilateral agreement.

To conclude, Iqbal stated that “The Framework Agreement offers optimism, but we also have to manage expectations and frustrations”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Guiamel Alim, Chairperson of CBCS, offered a challenge to the attending organizations on what they can do to disseminate correct information to the populace especially in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu. He added that information to be disseminated should not be exaggerated nor lacking of pertinent details, as either of which can be detrimental to the peace process.

MALAYSIANS SHOW SOLIDARITY TO URBAN IDPs

We think the Framework Agreement will give an opportunity for the Bangsamoro people to practice self-governance in accordance with Islamic ways of life as taught by the Qur-an and Hadith. This was the answer of the urban Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Barangay Narra when inquired by Malaysian press people on their expectations of the signed Framework Agreement (FA) between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Barangay Narra in Sultan Kudarat Municipality, a host community to IDPs, was visited by the Malaysian nationals from New Straits Times and UnyPhil-Women staff, Rasol Panansaran and Sittie Suad Esmael, last Sunday, October 14.

Malaysian Press and UnYPhil-Women discussing Framework Agreement with IDPs

The visit was part of the effort of the Malaysian Government to monitor theimpact of the signing of the FA on communities.  The Malaysian nationals, upon observing the dismal situation of the IDPs, pledged that they will bring humanitarian assistance whenever they can go back to our country during the implementation of the FA, and also they will support the construction of a Madrasah (Islamic school) in the community.

The People’s Organization of Barangay Narra, headed by its President Yusof Kahar, prepared snacks for the visitors which they graciously accepted. To show appreciation to the hospitality of the IDPs, the Malaysians gave them P7,000.00 that they can utilize for their organization’s activities. The Malaysians also sent them an envelope containing cash last Monday, October 15, that they will use for the Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) this month, more specifically, for the Qurban (sacrifice) of the organization.

Check out  for more photos: http://unyphilwomenimages.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/malaysian-press-in-solidarity-with-idps/