Zambo tri-people sectors rally behind BBL

Zamboanga City — Despite the strong opposition of their elected executives and lawmakers, peace activists from the tri-people sectors—Christians, Muslims, and Indigenous Peoples-declared their full support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the establishment of the Bangsamoro during a Senate public hearing held here last May 14.

At the hearing presided over by Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government tackling the proposed BBL, Abdul Bagui Sandag of the Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders expressed categorical support for the passage of the measure and the establishment of the new autonomous region.

“We, the IP community of Zamboanga, fully support the implementation of the BBL,” Sandag said as he articulated also some recommendations to enhance the protection of rights and welfare of IPs in the country.

Speaking for the local Muslim sector, Sultan Rico Pelandoc of the Iranon Sultanates League of the Philippines said: “We (came) here, despite the distance, to declare our support for the BBL.”

“(An undiluted) BBL we support could realize the dreams and aspirations of the people of Mindanao–and that is the original BBL submitted by the BTC or at least the substance of the BBL they submitted,” Pelandoc added.
If there should be changes, he said, it must lead to “an enhanced but not a watered-down BBL.”

Msgr. David Alonzo, speaking on behalf of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, said the Church “continually advocates peace and the co-existence of Christians along with other religious groups in the country, including our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

“We are with the government of the Republic of the Philippines in its quest for national unity and peace, recognizing its importance in building a strong, stable, and prosperous nation,” he added.

“As an advocate of peace, the Archdiocese of Zamboanga is not interposing any objection to the creation of the Bangsamoro on the condition that the provisions of this Bangsamoro are in conformity to the fundamental law of the land or the Constitution,” Alonzo said.
Earlier in the hearing, City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco interposed anew her administration’s opposition to the BBL, saying “the city of Zamboanga and all of its 98 barangays and sitios should never be included in the Bangsamoro, now or ever.”

Zamoanga City Rep. Celso Lobrigat has also been consistent in objecting to the passage of the BBL, which is a legal translation of the peace agreements forged by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

But a member of the audience pointed out that the stand of the city government on the proposed BBL does not reflect the stand of its residents, especially the Muslims.

“The voice of the city government is not the voice of Zamboanga. We have thousands of Bangsamoros here who support the BBL,” Macksu Magang of the civil society organization SIAPAHAN said.
Senator Marcos told the hearing here he would conduct two more hearings before his committee report on the BBL is finalized. One of the hearings would involve leaders and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), he said.


From: Manila Bulletin