IAG summarizes the main messages coming out of the Kusog Mindanaw 2018 Conference attended by around 100 key stakeholders representing different sectors of the Bangsamoro and Mindanao. Held last 8-9 November 2018 in Davao City and presented by IAG with support from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Philippines Office, Kusog Mindanaw 2018 convened on the issues surrounding the Bangsamoro Organic Law and federalism. 

  • Look at the whole transition, the plebiscite and the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the context of the wider Mindanao peace process. Mindanao peace process is broader that just the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Important elements such as federalism and charter change can be accommodated within this bigger picture. The need is to initiate the right steps to continuously evolve the process.
  • Identify the challenges: political, legal, resources and funds. As mentioned by the panelists, BOL will pass the test of constitutionality. On the other hand, we have to appreciate that the petitioners vs. the BOL are also exercising their rights before the proper forum for clarity. The important thing is to support legal processes and whatever the Supreme Court rules on the BOL.
  • There is a need for information up to the lowest level of political units and grassroots communities. The BOL has to be customized into a message that is understandable and responsive to the real concerns of the people on the ground.
  • Federalism and charter change are not mutually exclusive political processes. It’s not a question of BOL or federalism. They are complementary and we need to be involved as stakeholders in all these processes. Message of inclusivity, the need to be inclusive came out very strong.
  • Federalism is essentially a Kusog Mindanaw agenda that was planted in this forum as early as 23 years ago. The task at hand is to reclaim the federalism discourse from groups and persons who hijacked it and who are now advancing federalism out of their own political and personal interests and not out of the real federal agenda that is Mindanao-driven. One concrete proposal is to revive the federalism movement, for Kusog Mindanaw to push federalism and help the President.
  • Long-term sustainable solution to Bangsamoro problem is federalism. We have BOL but we know the limitation because of the Constitution. There is need to revisit the Constitution to allow self-determination through the federalism track. Federalism to resolve the Bangsamoro problem is substantially a territorial issue, but we also have to think about collapsing the borders, being open to dialogue with other territories. Bangsamoro cannot be a region by itself. While it is true that the Bangsamoro identity must be recognized, the region will not have sustainable peace and development without dialogue with the rest of Mindanao and the country.
  • The President has not really adopted a version of the draft federal constitution. There is a need for a more coordinated push and strong leadership for federalism. The federalism inter-agency task force will not work unless the President himself will exercise decisive, effective and efficient leadership in pushing for federalism.
  • Changing attitudes and values is important, but there is consensus that by changing structures, you may be able to influence changing values and attitudes. There is a need for electoral and political reforms, charter reform, even shift to federal system.