COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Muslim, Christian and Lumad employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Monday urged lawmakers to approve “as is” without delay the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The ARMM employees held on Monday a “peace rally” at the parade ground of the 32-hectare regional government compound in Cotabato City to show support to the draft BBL, now being deliberated by members of the House of Representatives.
The region’s rank-and-file workers, led by Regional Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia and Rasol Mitmug Jr., chief-of-staff of the Office of the Regional Governor, also urged the Senate to act on the proposed law based on mounting clamors for peace by folks in the autonomous region.
The draft BBL is the enabling measure for the creation of a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace ARMM based on the final peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The ARMM was first created via a plebiscite in 1990 that resulted to the ratification of its first charter, Republic Act (RA) 6734, covering Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, all in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
The R.A. 6734 was amended, to become R.A. 9054, through another referendum in 2001, which resulted to the inclusion into the autonomous region of Basilan and Marawi City.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman had repeatedly said in December 2014, during separate yearend parties of regional departments and support offices under his ministerial control, that there could be a transition from the present autonomous political set-up to the incoming Bangsamoro government before 2016.
Alamia said Hataman is ready to turn over to Malacaaang and the MILF all the manpower and fiscal assets of all offices under the executive department of the regional government once the transition process begins.
“Our regional governor is a staunch supporter of the government-MILF peace initiative,” Alamia said.
Alamia said the main concern of the Hataman administration, for now, is the enactment into law of the draft BBL.
Alamia said ARMM employees are expecting the two chambers of Congress to enact the draft BBL into law without revisions.
“The approval of this proposed law is a major step in resolving nagging security problems in the autonomous region,” Alamia said.
The ARMM’s five provinces, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, are common bastions of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed a peace deal with government on Sept. 2, 1996.
The MILF, which splintered from the MNLF in the early 1980s, now have two accords with government, the October 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.
The interim 75-member House committee handling the draft BBL, led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, is slated to vote for every provision of the bill next week.
“We are urging members of the committee to pass the bill `as is,’ not in a diluted form, to enable the Bangsamoro entity to efficiently govern the communities inside its proposed core territory,” Alamia said.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and his younger sibling, Assemblyman Khadafy Mangudadatu of the 24-seat ARMM Regional Assembly, on Tuesday also called for the enactment into law of the draft BBL without delay.
“The provincial leadership in Maguindanao supports the peace efforts of the government and the MILF and is for the enactment into law of the draft BBL,” Gov. Mangudadatu said.
Assemblyman Mangudadatu, who is representing the second district of Maguindanao to the Regional Assembly, touted as “Little Congress” of the autonomous region, said the new Bangsamoro political entity will usher in improvements in the socio-economic landscape of the province.
Maguindanao has 36 towns where the MILF has dozens of enclaves covered by its July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities with government.
“Anything meant to foster peace and sustainable development in Maguindanao, empower our people, we shall support to the best we can,” Assemblyman Mangudadatu said in an emailed statement.