A member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) — the body that drafted the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) — encouraged the academe to create more spaces to advance the conversations of peace in Mindanao.
“When you look at the communities in Mindanao, we see that we have a thriving ummah (community) of Muslims, Indigenous Peoples (IPs), and Christians that look to us, the academe, for safe spaces for dialogue,” BTC commissioner Mussolini Lidasan said in a forum held at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology on Saturday.
The forum was organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and its partners to educate the public on the salient points of the BOL.
“We learned that this space provides understanding and learning from one another. And I witness and experience this when I was a student of this University,” he said.
Lidasan said this is the vision of the BOL. “In a larger scale, this is what we hope to achieve, on much larger spaces, with the implementation of the BOL,” he said.
Lidasan, who is a professor at the Ateneo de Davao University, said the Bangsamoro struggle in the past symbolized “a sword or a rifle.”
The academe, he added, “symbolizes the pen.”
Lidasan called on the academe to sustain its proactive efforts to address misconceptions about the Bangsamoro peace process.
“The role of the academe is not to sit idly by while those in the grassroots do the dirty work. It is not to sit in air-conditioned offices while those who are poor and destitute can do nothing about their situation. We in the academe are there not to highlight problems but to find solutions and to create structures where every Bangsamoro can feel safe,” he said.
Zeroing in on the gist of the law, Lidasan said the BOL has five pillars the academe should promote.
“The five pillars of our BOL – political and fiscal autonomy, IP rights, environmental protection, and a system of government – are an expression of the ideals we have fought so long for,” he said.
“This is what we mean by the right to self-determination. It is only by pushing our pen towards peace that we can have an active, participatory form of government,” he added.
“I am sure most of you are asking, what good does the BOL bring to you, your family, communities, and in the entire LDN? Peace and development. As what Secretary Jess Dureza of OPAPP always says, if there is peace, there is development,” Lidasan said.
He also urged the academe to help get the BOL ratified in the plebiscite scheduled on January 21, 2019.
“Let’s give the BOL a chance help rebuild our Bangsamoro homeland… We still have the plebiscite to hurdle,” he said.
“And after that, we have the unenviable task of transitioning from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro as it is. There is a long journey ahead, but our team and our communities are very eager, and willing, to push our pen even more than we have before,” he added.
For his part, Marjanie Mimbantas, a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel, said the MILF promotes a peaceful political exercise through the democratic process.
“From bullets to ballots,” he said, noting the MILF has already come up with a political party in preparation for the future Bangsamoro government “to address the Bangsamoro struggle through a democratic process.”
“It is now in the hands of the Bangsamoro people to ratify the law,” he said.
Maisara Dandamun-Latiph, another commissioner of the BTC, called on the youth, which composes the bulk of the voting population, to exercise their political rights by participating in the plebiscite.
“As they say, the youth is hope of the nation,” she said.