The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is a comprehensive solution to the peace and security situation in Mindanao and will be the key in moving the country’s peace and development agenda forward.
This was the consensus of members of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panels during a media forum on the Bangsamoro peace process organized by the GPH-MILF Joint Communications Committee (JCC) held here.
The forum was attended by media practitioners coming from the cities of Cagayan de Oro and the province of Bukidnon.
“Hopefully, the march towards peace will be achieved through the implementation of the BOL,” Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan said.
Tan said the landmark measure is a realization of President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to honor all signed agreements between the national government and rebel organizations in step with the Philippine Constitution.
“The President really pushed hard for the passage of the BOL,” he said.
Tan said the law, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27, will not be a “panacea” to the problems in Mindanao but is a big step in realizing his vision of long-lasting peace and sustainable development for the island-region.
He said the BOL effectively counters the narrative of radical groups who say the national government cannot be trusted, especially in fulfilling its commitments relative to the peace process.
“This is an antidote against violent extremism. Through the passage of the law, the government has proven them wrong,” he said
Tan said the quest for peace is not just the concern of the national government but should be the responsibility of all Filipinos.
“This will not happen overnight but can be achieved ‘peace by piece,’” he said.
At the same forum, Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, said there is a need to fully understand the context of the Bangsamoro people’s struggle for self-determination.
“A lot of [Filipinos] don’t know what are the roots of the peace problem in Mindanao,” he said.
Iqbal said the MILF’s armed struggle started out as a “defense mechanism” but later on evolved as a fight for the recognition of his people’s rights and welfare.
“We lost our sovereignty. We lost our lands. We were deprived of our internal development,” he said.
“The core of the Bangsamoro problem is [therefore] the quest for self-governance,” he added.
Iqbal described the decades-long armed conflict between the government and the MILF as a “mutually hurting stalemate” and a war which they eventually realized could not be won through the barrel of the gun.
“There are really no winners in war. All of us are affected. There is really no other alternative for us but to talk peace,” he said.
Iqbal said with the passage and ratification of the BOL, the participation of the MILF in meaningful governance will be ensured.
“The law would finally be able to address the areas of discontent among our people,” he said.
For his part, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Commissioner Jose Lorena Jr. said the BOL is “a collective prescription” to the peace problem in Mindanao.
“The law is accepted as the best formula to solve the peace and security problem we have in Mindanao,” Lorena said.
He noted that the island-region has been blessed with abundant natural resources but has been hit by a “man-made calamity” of armed conflict.
Lorena said there is a need to recognize the identity of the Bangsamoro people as an essential component towards attaining peace and prosperity in the region.
“This is not only a covenant for peace but also a covenant between the Bangsamoro and the Filipino people; that there is a need to make Mindanao peaceful and progressive,” he said.