2022 BOL book

Autonomy laws in southern Philippines have evolved since the grant of limited self-rule to the Moro people under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. Over time, more powers and authority were granted to the Bangsamoro autonomous region. The enshrinement of Moro autonomy in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, as a political solution to the war for independence waged by Moro revolutionary groups, further strengthened the legal and constitutional bases for the development of autonomy.


As a product of peace negotiations, autonomy laws occupy a place higher than ordinary statutes and laws. The jurisprudence to implement peace agreements is not confined just to the letter of the law, but also takes into serious consideration the social, historical and security context in which autonomy arrangements are established.


A survey of cases related to Moro autonomy decided by the Supreme Court of the Philippines shows a mixed range of decisions for or against the grant of more or fewer autonomy powers, depending on the extent the justices considered the issues strictly from the point of law, on one hand, and the peace agreements and context, on the other.


To take on the lens solely from the point of law in interpreting policies to implement peace agreements overlooks the just cause of armed conflicts against unjust legal regimes. On the other hand, peace agreements are not laws or constitutions. They do not create legal obligations and rights until they are translated to statutes and public policies.


Peace agreements are aspirational, while constitutions and laws are living documents that evolve to address the needs of the times and the governed. Through time, when capacities for self-rule are developed, constitutions and laws evolve closer to the autonomy aspirations of the people as the ultimate source of state authority.


This book treats and explains the provisions of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) with due regard to the interplay and dynamics of the Mindanao peace process, the peace agreements, the Philippine Constitution and autonomy laws. It consists of two parts – a framework or lens to analyze the BOL and the annotation/explanation of the provisions of the law. It is hoped that this work can contribute to the greater understanding of the BOL and the development of the Philippine Constitution and laws as instruments for sustainable peace and development in southern Philippines.

Meet the Authors 1

Benedicto R. Bacani is the Founder and Executive Director, Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) based at Notre Dame University, Cotabato City, Philippines. He was Dean, College of Law, Notre Dame University, Cotabato City and Associate Professor in Political, Administrative and Human Rights Law. He was a member of the Independent Panel of Lawyers that provided legal assistance to the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. He has written books and papers on Muslim Mindanao autonomy, among which are the annotation of the organic law of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and “Beyond Paper Autonomy: The Challenges in Southern Philippines”.


Jose I. Lorena is currently a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in the BARMM and concurrently Deputy Minister of the Ministry for Human Settlements. He was a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the Bangsamoro Organic Law. He served as undersecretary for Bangsamoro projects at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). He was AttorneyGeneral and Secretary of Labor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Peace Panel which negotiated the Final Peace Agreement with the Philippine government. He has written articles on minority rights, ancestral domain, terrorism, local governance and post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.


Ishak V. Mastura holds executive and administrative posts in the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and was also a cabinet official in its predecessor, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for more than 17 years. He was in the legal panel and Technical Working Group for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the negotiations of its peace agreement with government and was involved in the drafting and legislation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. He has written numerous articles on Mindanao peace and economic development and was a member of the Swiss-led Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro research and study group as the MILF’s nominee. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo de Manila Law School and a Master of Laws from the University of Dundee in Scotland, U.K.


Rasol Y. Mitmug, Jr. graduated from the Juris Doctor program of the Ateneo Rockwell Law School. His first engagement with the Bangsamoro was as a human rights lawyer in the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center. He was a consultant for Senator Teofisto Guingona III for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (ARMM). He served the ARMM in various capacities: Assemblyman of Lanao del Sur and Speaker of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Assistant Executive Secretary, Chief of Staff of the Regional Governor, OIC Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, OIC Director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Secretary for the Department of Education under the administration of Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman. He is currently a Member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and Secretary General of the Bangsamoro Peoples Party.


Johaira C. Wahab is a career foreign service officer and a lawyer by profession. She headed the legal team for the Philippine Government in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in August 2010 until she was appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III as member and Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in April 2013. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy magna cum laude and Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Philippines. As a Fulbright scholar, she received her master’s degree in law (LL.M.) in National Security Law from the Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she was also awarded the Dorothy Mayer Prize for Outstanding Academic Performance. She topped the foreign service officers examination in 2012 and assumed her appointment as foreign service officer in 2014.


616 pages

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Published by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance with support from the Australian Government