MANILA, Philippines – Reeling from public backlash and the political fallout that followed the deadly clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, President Benigno Aquino III on March 27 convened a group that seeks to forge a consensus on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The original members of the so-called Citizens’ Peace Council were Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr, businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee, and founder of Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman. A total of 17 other co-convenors were named later.
There were apprehensions about the role that the group would play in relation to discussions of the bill that is presently in the final stage of deliberations in Congress, with some labeling it as nothing but a pressure group.
The council would turn out to be a body that would review and re-evaluate the contents of the proposed law based on 4 aspects:
- Constitutionality, Forms and Powers of Government
- Economy and Patrimony
- Social Justice and Human Development
- Peace and Order and Human Security
After two weeks of discussions, the council arrived at a conclusion that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is “overwhelmingly acceptable and deserves the support of Filipinos” save for some recommendations. A total of 136 individuals participated in the discussions, including all the convenors.
The Bangsamoro bill aims to create a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao with expanded political and fiscal powers. It marks the next stage of the peace process in Southern Philippines – the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Read the full report below.