While the road to long-lasting peace and prosperity in Mindanao Region is complex and filled with challenges, the national government never ceases to find ways to finally bring peace to the region.
The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) lauded the creation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and at the same time recognized that “the path to the realization of the BOL.”
“We commend the Bangsamoro Organic Law for addressing the root sources of social violence in Southern Philippines. Indeed, the meaning of peace goes deeper than the cessation of militarized encounters. Studies on Mindanao such as those by Montiel (2012; 2013), Bulatao (1973), and Saber (1969) imply that among Muslims peace is strongly associated with Muslim culture and land-related debates. The BOL forefronts both of these issues,” the NRCP said in a statement.
It said the BOL comprehensively addresses many aspirations and issues citing Article 1 which establishes the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, while Article 2 asserts the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and establishes the territorial jurisdiction over constituent units and bodies of waters.
In its 18 Articles, NRCP said the BOL further outlines and illustrates how power and wealth will be decentralized to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
“A deeper peace in Mindanao will certainly open up more avenues for political democracy and economic prosperity,” it said.
However, the group stressed that the BOL’s passage is only the beginning, though a very important one.
“We note that political transitions anywhere, in any form carry with them challenges such as reversal of powers to long established dominant groups, or the slow pace of policy execution, or the lack of support from citizens. Cognizant of these challenges, those trusts in the pursuit of the BOL see the need to utilize appropriate communal resources during the difficult transition period,” it said.
“The Bangsamoro Organic Law engenders a form of decentralization through power-sharing between national and sub-national levels of government. However, power-sharing is not easy to implement. Decentralization presents both opportunities and risks. On the hand, autonomous regions can turn more culturally creative, economically productive, and politically accountable communities precisely because they are no longer stifled by centralizing domination,” it added.
On the other hand, NRCP said such centrifugal forces may likewise unleash destructive fragmentation that may create new social divisions and separations or may perpetrate the domination of traditional powers and authorities.
“Indeed, the cooperation and partnership among diverse groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF), indigenous peoples, Christians, and the Philippine government, who have been instrumental in the forging of the BOL, are essential to the BOL’s intent and purposes,” it said.
Meanwhile the group recommends measures that are necessary for a healing process and to build a society of peace and development.
Such measures include: Address the memories and traumas; Encourage greater tolerance and intercultural living among clans and communities that respect and recognize diverse beliefs, customs, and practices; Capacitate communities around participatory and shared efforts in local governance; Enhance the capacities and skills of local authorities, particularly in leadership under the new Bangsamoro Organic law; and Encourage and incentivize experts and scientists to share the competency necessary for a local democracy to be inclusive and developmental.