COTABATO CITY, Aug. 21 (PNA) — Youth leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have urged political leaders in the country, especially the lawmakers, to take a second look into the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The group of Marawi City-based youth leaders that gathered more than half-a-million signatures of Mindanaoans supporting the passage into law of the proposed BBL and urged lawmakers to support the bill to attain genuine peace in Mindanao.
The group submitted the half-a-million signatures to Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Sec. Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process on Thursday.
“We are giving these signatures to our political leaders to remind them that at least 500,000 of their constituents support the BBL,” Coalition of Moro Youth Movement (CMYM) chair Marjanie Macasalong said.
“We understand that both the House of Representatives and the Senate are still in the middle of the BBL legislative process. We hope that, with the help of these signatures, they will pass a BBL that responds to the genuine aspirations of our people,” Macasalong added.
Her group started collecting signatures early in March 2015 in response to declarations from legislators critical of the BBL that it does not have enough support among Filipinos, especially among Mindanaoans.
Stung by such statements, the members of the youth group decided to launch a signature campaign all around Mindanao.
It took them three months to secure at least 500,000 signatures and another month to validate the authenticity of these signatures and the persons who signed them.
“The people of Mindanao are tired of war. They will vote for politicians who are for peace. If we were able to gather 500,000 signatures in three months without financial support from anyone, can you just imagine how many people are actually supportive of the peace process?” Macasalong noted.
“The election in 2016 will be decided by the youth. And the youth are for peace. Those who want to win must also be for peace,” she said.
In her manifesto accompanying the signatures, Macasalong said the Moro people “are aware of the biases, prejudices, and discrimination, and calls for an all-out war against the Bangsamoro people, are not the solution to the conflicts in Mindanao.”
“We are now in Manila because we want to show the leaders of this country that people from the ground clamor the passage of a BBL that is in consonance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” said Macasalong.
CAB is the peace accord signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF in 2014.
It served as the basis for the drafting of the BBL, and contains provisions for the decommissioning of MILF forces and the transformation of conflict-affected areas into peaceful, productive communities.
The group’s manifesto also urged those who are opposed to peace in Mindanao to take a “deep study and understanding of the Bangsamoro narrative to discover and learn the reasons and justifications of their struggle for self-determination that began with the coming of the Spaniards up to this time in accordance with the expressed provision [in] the Constitution.”
Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, autonomous regions must be established in Cordilleras and in Muslim Mindanao in order to accommodate the unique histories and cultures of their people and to provide them with genuine self-rule while remaining part of the Republic.
“We are not MILF. But we support the peace initiatives put forward by the MILF with the Government of the Philippines because it is clear to us that the MILF is representing the Bangsamoro’s hopes and dreams,” Macasalong said. (PNA)