By: Gandhi Kinjiyo
GENERAL SANTOS CITY/October 21, 2018 – A member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) said the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) upholds human rights and peacebuilding citing that the creation of Bangsamoro Government is anchored on the principle that it shall promote unity, peace, justice, and goodwill among all peoples, as well as encourage a just and peaceful settlement of disputes.
“In the preamble as for the creation of Bangsamoro, it is to establish an enduring peace on the basis of justice,” Commissioner Raissa Jajurie of the BTC, pointed out in her presentation in the 5th International Conference on Justice, Peace and Conflict in Southeast Asia.
The event, held at Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City on October 15-17, 2018, gathered more than two hundred peace workers, human rights activists and researchers from Southeast Asian states.
Jajurie, a human rights lawyer, explained, “The Bangsamoro Government shall protect all persons from harassment or any undue pressure, coercion, and violence on account of religion.”
She noted that while the Moro tribes are minority in the country, they are dominant in the Bangsamoro territory and the Indigenous Peoples and Christian Settlers are the minority.
“Because the fear is among the Settlers, there is that need to ensure that religious freedom shall be respected in the political entity,” she added.
Jajurie said the Bangsamoro government shall exercise authority over set of powers and one of which is “human rights.”
The BOL or Republic Act 11054 is the legal translation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a peace deal signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014 after more than 17 years of peace talks.
It was passed by the Senate and House of Representatives last July. The law seeks to establish an autonomous political entity aimed to fulfill the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination.
The legislation will be ratified by a majority vote cast of the electorate in a plebiscite on January 21 2019 in the proposed Bangsamoro political entity that covers the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), six towns in Lanao del Norte, 39 Barangays in North Cotabato and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato.
The political entity which shall be known as Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) shall be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament headed by a chief minister.
“The Parliament shall adopt measures to ensure mutual respect and protection of the distinct beliefs, customs, and traditions of the Bangsamoro people and the other inhabitants in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” the speaker explained.
“There is mandate also that whatever program that will be drawn up shall ensure gender-responsiveness in all aspects of security and peace building, including the participation of women in decision-making in the peacebuilding and security matters in the context or rehabilitation and development,” Jajurie said.
She said the creation of Bangamoro Human Rights Commission is provided in the BOL and the requirement is that the Commission should reflect ethnic distribution.
The speaker further said the Bangsamoro government is mandated to institutionalize peace education. “We can infuse that with peacebuilding and history of Bangsamoro so that there is better understanding among people,” she underscored.
Jajurie together with lawyer Mary Ann Arnado were the two resource persons in the panel session entitled “The Bangsamoro Organic Law and Federalism: How can these new forms of governance strengthen human rights and peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro region?” moderated by Dr. Ayesah Uy Abubakar.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported the event. It was hosted by the Southeast Asian Human Rights Network. Organizers look forward to hold the 6th conference in Vietnam on 2020.