Groups urge bicam to craft BBL reflective of previous peace deals

MANILAVarious peace and civil society groups on Tuesday urged members of the congressional bicameral conference committee to craft a final version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that reflects the core principles of previous and current peace negotiations with the Bangsamoro.

In an open letter read during a peace rally held in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Quezon City where the bicameral conference committee is being held, the All-Out Peace (AOP) network further stressed that the BBL should "substantially" reflect and recognize the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples, and all other inhabitants of Mindanao.

"AOP believes that the BBL, if enacted according to its intent and purpose, would finally unlock a smooth sailing peace process and social progress in the south," the groups said.

"A product of a long-drawn peace negotiation, it also serves as a 'justice instrument', which can help in correcting historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people, the indigenous peoples, and other inhabitants of Mindanaoinjustices that continue to haunt them up to this day," they added.

Members of both chambers of Congress are conducting a bicameral conference on the proposed BBL to reconcile differences between their respective versions. The meeting will run until Friday.

The groups also warned against the possible enactment of a "watered-down BBL" as it will fully realize the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

"For us, a diluted BBL could trigger more problems than provide solutions to the Bangsamoro question. If our lawmakers act as peace architects through the legislative process, they should know that they cannot build peace in Mindanao by having a substandard BBL," the groups said.

They, however, expressed hope that the bicam conference committee would restore the significant provisions of the original BBL draft.

The groups also appealed to grant genuine and efficient fiscal autonomy for the Bangsamoro; provide the Bangsamoro effective management and control over and benefits of the natural resources in the Bangsamoro territory; full Inclusion of the Indigenous Peoples rights in the BBL; and institutionalize a transitional justice and reconciliation process for the Bangsamoro. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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