Public consultation on Bangsamoro Transition Authority held
The Committee on Transitory Arrangements and Modalities of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) held a public consultation in Davao City on December 13th, 2013 on the subject Bangsamoro Transition Authority, one of the provisions of the forthcoming Basic Law. The following is a rundown of interventions from the public.
1- The seemingly short time before the 2016 national elections and its implications on the peace negotiations was raised as a concern.
2- The women agenda should be reflected in the Basic Law. The Basic Law must be crafted in a way that empowers women and ensure their participation in the Bangsamoro whether or not they are from the MILF. This can be done by providing reserved seats or considering nominations from the civil society.
3- The Office of the Regional Commission on Human Rights created under Republic Act (RA) 9054 and operationalized by Muslim Mindanao Act (MMA) No. 288 be continued at least while in transition to the Bangsamoro government. The RCHR is critical in ensuring that the rights of people in the Bangsamoro are respected, promoted and fulfilled; the much needed services to women in difficult circumstances are provided.
4- The Basic Law must provide for the institutionalization of a gender focal person in all levels of governance in the Bangsamoro. This institution can start even while the government is in transition.
5- Since the Bangsamoro Transition Authority is granted blanket authority to pass laws applicable in the Bangsamoro, the passage of Shariah-based legislations by the duly elected Bangsamoro Parliament following procedures is strongly urged.
6- The Basic Law must provide for the establishment of a mechanism for public participation in the evaluation of the BTA’s performance during its period of governance. While the Annex states that the BTA will be MILF-led, principles of transparency and accountability must be taken into account bearing in mind the pluralistic character of the Bangsamoro territory.
7- The issue on stability was raised as a concern. What happens in the ARMM and eventually the Bangsamoro territory also affects areas outside of it. Civilian supremacy over the military must be upheld; civilians must be empowered to be more knowledgeable and to avoid situations wherein leadership in some areas is superseded by the military.
8- The public is urged to pray for everlasting peace in Mindanao. It is hoped that the government will be honest in implementing this endeavor.
9- A positive observation that several consultations have been conducted and that the Committee is open to receiving inputs from the public was shared.
10- A paper appealing for the inclusion of Badjaos in the peace talks and their representation in the Bangsamoro was submitted to the Committee.
11- A question relating to the ministerial configuration of the Bangsamoro government within the presidential structure of the national government and how to go about power sharing was raised.
12- A question on what the transition is moving away from and where it is going towards was aired.
13- Another question on what would the relationship between the Department of Education and the DepEd that will be established in the Bangsamoro going to look like and what would be the working relationship was put forward.
14- The participation of the youth in critical developments leading to the Bangsamoro was urged.
15- The Bangsamoro government must have clear mechanisms on transparency and accountability. It must be inclusive at all levels. The mechanism for the composition of the Bangsamoro government must consider the territory’s heterogeneity.
16- A recommendation that a Committee consultation will also be held in Sulu was aired.
17- That the BTA can exercise control and supervision over local governments for purposes of good governance and harmonization of development programs, policies and priorities was positively noted.
18- The BTA should exercise full powers granted to the Bangsamoro even during the transition period to respond to expectations of people. The peace agreement must be translated to evidence of peace.
19- While maintaining that the BTA is MILF-led, there should be a set of qualifications for other members to be appointed by the President; political accommodations must be avoided.
20- Upon signing of the comprehensive peace agreement, the government and donor entities should direct funds right away to the BTA.
21- The courts should retain their current powers.
22- A recommendation that the Basic Law must provide for the terms for members of the BTA in case the Bangsamoro government is not set by 2016 was raised.
23- The Basic Law should clarify the institutional inter-phasing and relationship of the BTA and the eventual Bangsamoro government and other entities of the government outside the Bangsamoro areas.
24- The recommendation to also include the Badjaos and Samas was reiterated.
25- The BTA although MILF-led should not be exclusive but rather inclusive of other groups.
26- A plea for the government to be sincere in its pursuit of peace was reiterated.
27- A recommendation to simplify the discourse and bring it to the level of youth was aired. This entails crafting creative ways to deliver the message to them.
28- A suggestion that the BTA form a sophisticated communications strategy group within the transition process that includes members of the government as well as civil society, all of whom must be professionals was raised.
29- The indigenous peoples cannot be a minor concern. It may need a specific sub-body or study group and a stronger set of provisions to register differentiation of indigenous peoples within the Bangsamoro as well as the peripheral areas.
30- More clarity is sought on what will happen to barangays subject to plebiscite on the Bangsamoro, especially with regards to who they will vote for in the 2016 elections. A request to clarify this issue with the public via a provincial consultation in Amas, North Cotabato was aired.
31- A plea that exclusive powers granted to the Bangsamoro under Section 30 of the Annex on Power Sharing with regards to the protection of the rights of the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro be transferred to the national government was raised to reiterate IP concern. This is in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), signed by the Philippines that became the basis of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), which is an executive law.
32- A recommendation to retain and hire competent individuals or a pool of experts to run the transitory government in preparation for 2016 was aired.
33- CBCS will submit output of community consultations highlighting the role of traditional leaders and the ulama/religious leaders to be considered in the BTA.
34- The issue on social preparedness of the affected stakeholders was raised. A mechanism must be in place to make sure these stakeholders are prepared. Further emphasis was put on the need to consider the pluralistic character of the areas covered. The same mechanism should be able to address the different assertions of different identities in the larger context of assertion for self-governance.
35- More foresight on land, water, and a clearer provision on air space were sought.
36- The different economic and cultural factors must be considered along the line of equal representation of sectors given the pluralistic character of the Bangsamoro areas.
37- The view that the government must review existing and past agreements, especially the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in its pursuit of long lasting peace was raised.
38- The forthcoming arrangements – the BTA and eventually the Bangsamoro government – should ensure that laws for the protection and participation of children will be strengthened. Similarly, existing structures such as the partnership between local councils for the protection of children and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) must be strengthened, although how this is going to figure in the BTA and the Bangsamoro is not yet known.
39- A recommendation that disaster-preparedness be included, its structure strengthened in the forthcoming arrangements (the BTA and Bangsamoro) was aired.
40- The environment of inclusivity and the engagement with the youth as future leaders were reiterated.
41- The BTA must provide space for the crafting of a cultural agenda; all voices must be heard in the crafting of the Basic Law in the spirit of democracy. The Bangsamoro cannot be treated as homogeneous. It must consider cultural nuances, identities and differences among different peoples and not lump them as one Bangsamoro identity. (The result of dialogue conducted by the Al Qalam Institute of the Ateneo de Davo Univeristy was submitted to the Committee.)
42- A recommendation that proper consideration be given to the Bangsamoro communities outside the core territories to ensure that their concerns will also be addressed was put forward. This will also relate to the power on Al-Hajj and Umrah granted exclusively to the Bangsamoro needing mechanism on processing and proper conduct.
43- A statement by Liguasan Marsh residents calling for the preservation and protection of the Liguasan wetland complex was read. It says among others that equality and equity of benefits among those living in the ecosystem must be ensured and that they do not want to be addressed as IPs but as Bangsamoro.
44- An appeal to include Zamboanga peninsula on the Bangsamoro map was raised.
45- Tawi-Tawi is praying for good health and excellent situation of the Transition Commission, read a statement from people from the province, adding that their future depends on the BTC. The statement also urges for the passage of immigration policies for the protection of the Bangsamoro in neighboring countries like Malaysia.
46- In the transition to the BTA and the Bangsamoro, political resistance from traditional politicians must be considered; a mechanism to address this must be adopted.
47- MSU Sulu offered their time and expertise to the commission in case the BTC needs their help.
48- Apprehensions with regards to security and ground situation in Sulu, recruitment by lawless elements and redeployment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were raised.
49- A mechanism on normalization should also be able to address issues relating to the royal army and the MILF army. The dilemma is how to guarantee security of people and address threats come normalization period.
50- The appointment of members of the BTA and other agencies in the upcoming Bangsamoro government should be anchored on a competency-based program.
51- There should be a mechanism to deal with spoilers.
52- Issues and concerns relating to Shariah, justice system, rido, normalization and peace and order as prerequisite for peace and development were raised. The Committee on Transitory Provisions will refer these to the Committee on Justice and Security.
53- A recommendation to come up with a mechanism on how political parties can play a vital role in the political dynamics of the Bangsamoro along the line of good governance was raised.
54- A concern that the 1-year period is too short for transition was raised. Further study on the extension of the transition period is needed.
55- Further reiteration on the concern of Liguasan Marsh stakeholders was aired. The BTA should consider in its policies protection and conservation of the environment.
56- A suggestion for organizers of the consultation to produce information materials and papers for the public was raised.
57- A concern on territory and the provision on 10 percent petition was raised. Stakeholders may want to be clarified further on the meaning of “qualified voters” (Com. Wahab would clarify this later to mean “registered voters”) and “contiguous areas”. Two months time preparation for the Commission on Elections seems too short.
58- Another recommendation is to produce information and education campaign (IEC) materials for students, intensify IECs and get information to the grassroots.
59- The environmental policies should also take a look at the situation in Lanao Lake in light of prevalent power outages. Climate change should also factor in the policies to be crafted.
60- The view of the Committee on programs dealing with senior citizens and rebel returnees was sought. The suggestion is to align forthcoming policies with existing policies of the government so as not to create conflict.
61- A question on what will happen to cases of atrocities in Basilan allegedly committed by MILF elements once the BTA and eventually the Bangsamoro government is entrenched.
62- A request that this public hearing must also be held in North Cotabato was aired.
63- Internal security mechanism should look into the issues on proliferation of loose firearms, and private armies. The new political entity might want to consider preventive measures.
The public consultation on Bangsamoro Transition Authority was organized by the Committee on Transitory Provisions of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. The Institute for Autonomy & Governance in association with the Al Qalam Institute of the Ateneo de Davao University facilitated the activity sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. IAG Executive Director Atty. Benny Bacani facilitated the hearing.
Editor's note: The foregoing is an unofficial account of the proceedings based on IAG recording. The BTC Secretariat is the official documenter and custodian of all proceedings of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.