Sultan Maguid Maruhom of Ummah Fi Salaam (center) warns participants that the CAB signing is not yet the establishment of Bangsamoro government.
As part of their advocacy in support of the peace process between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), KFI and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) launched a series of public consultations on the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the province of Zamboanga del Sur in April this year.
With funding assistance from Bread for the World-Civil Peace Service Program, the first of these consultations was held in Pagadian City on April 8-9 with 30 participants from leaders of Moro, Subanen and settler communities of the province. CBCS chairman and KFI executive director Guiamel Alim was the main resource person the said activity.
In his input, Ali explained the rationale for the consultation: the costs of war, the failure of earlier peace deals with the Moro fronts and the failure of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to meet the basic peace, security and development needs of its constituents. Thus the CAB, which was signed by the GPH and MILF on March 27, 2014, he said, must be supported.
“Without massive public support, any formula will not succeed,” he stressed.
Sultan Maguid Maruhom, director of interfaith organization Ummah Fi Salaam, however, reminded the participants in his welcome address that the signing of the CAB is not yet the installation of Bangsamoro government. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), he said, must still be passed and approved by the Philippine congress.
Consultation with the Subanen
In response to the recommendation in the first consultation, a special consultation on CAB with the Subanen tribal leaders was also conducted in Pagadian City on April 23-24 with retired historian and peace activist Prof. Rudy Rodil as resource person. A total of 23 tribal leaders from Zamboanga Sibuguey took part in the activity.
Using historical facts, maps and figures, Rodil outlined the evolution of CAB from the 17 years of peace negotiations before explaining the pact’s contents and answering the basic questions raised by the participants.
Most of the questions raised by the tribal leaders focused on the implications of CAB to the IPs within the core and adjacent territory of the Bangsamoro, particularly as to their rights to their ancestral domain, justice and governance system as well as representation in the to-be-established Bangsamoro government.
Prof. Rudy Rodil (center, standing) explains the significance of CAB in addressing historical and social injustices in Mindanao.
Rodil, who also sat as member of the government panel in talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1993-96 and with the MILF in 2003-2008, framed CAB within the context of Mindanao’s tri-people population and the armed insurgencies confronting the Philippine government. He cited the then National Unification and Conciliation Commission’s findings on the main causes of insurgency in the country: the exploitation and marginalization of indigenous cultural communities, including the lack of respect and recognition of their ancestral domain and indigenous legal and political systems.
“The Bangsamoro and the Lumads or IPs are concrete examples of this marginalization,” he stressed in his presentation.
Challenges and ways forward
The biggest challenge, according to Alim in his Pagadian talk, is the passage or approval of the BBL in the Philippine congress. Thus educational campaign and information dissemination, especially at the community level, “must strengthen and empower” the people, he said.
Further, he challenged the participants to “strengthen our institutional support” to CAB and to “be part of history.”
Meanwhile, Rodil, in the consultation with the Subanon, stressed the need for a tri-people dialogue and understanding.
“We must dream as Mindanawon and together try to create a new generation,” he said.