The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was again elevated to centerstage when the Arrupe Office of Social Formation’s Communications and Advocacy Program (CAP) brought a representative from the Government Peace Negotiating Panel (GPNP) in the person of Atty. Mohammad Al-Amin Julkipli who gave a comprehensive presentation of the BBL in a forum held at the Finster Auditorium on 28th November 2014. The Arrupe Office originally invited, as early as July, no less than the government’s chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer—an invitation that intended to build on the observance of the annual Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) in late November. But due to unmitigating circumstances related to her hectic schedule, especially that the BBL has already been submitted to Philippine Congress for public scrutiny, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) sent Atty. Julkipli to speak on her behalf.
Atty. Julkipli is a member of the legal team of the GPNP, and an alternate member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). As a young Moro (Tausug) lawyer from Zamboanga City who used to lecture at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in Zamboanga City on Philippine Government and Constitution, Current Sociology, and Political Dynamics (with emphasis on peace and conflict studies), he walked the forum’s audience through the intricacies of the BBL including: Issues on its constitutionality, the timeframe given for its implementation, the challenges that lie ahead once it passes through the scrutiny of congress and eventually presented to the proposed Bangsamoro territory for ratification in a plebiscite, and its overall impact in the entire effort of the government to seriously pursue Mindanao peace at all cost. In a lecture that specifically highlighted issues on territory, governance and political structure of the Bangsamoro entity, its socio-economic development and patrimony, provisions for normalization, among others, Atty. Julkipli’s knowledge of the law provided some fresh insights on the process as to how the drafting of the BBL has broken new grounds in serious efforts at peacemaking and peacebuilding in the Philippines, courtesy of the government of Pres. Benigno Aquino III. He also reiterated how the proposed creation of the Bangsamoro territory took into consideration lessons learned from previous peace negotiations conducted by previous governments. He mentioned how this new law truly made the necessary effort to integrate political correctness by providing a gender dimension that pays serious attention to the role of women in governance, as well as providing inter-governmental support and funding inorder to make sure that strong monitoring mechanisms are in place.
While it sits in the hands of congress for further study—anticipating more public debates and discussions traversing all sides of the congressional divide—the BBL has already been receiving a lot of attention within the university and even beyond it, such as, for example, in the Davao Association of Colleges and Schools (DACS), and even in the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). In April of 2014, the Conversations on Peacebuilding in Mindanao gathered together Catholic bishops, heads of educational institutions and seminaries, peace centers and representatives of the media, civil society groups and nongovernment organizations (NGOs), as well as some invited guests from the top echelon of the GPNP, and the MILF. Through the primary efforts of the Office of the University President, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ, more avenues for discussions pertaining to the BBL have already been provided in Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) in the course of months since the creation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012, and eventually the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the later part of March 2014.
It may well be remembered also that prior to this forum, the Arrupe Office has also conducted a round-table discussion (RTD), conversation-style, on 30th July 2014 directed to student leaders on updates concerning the drafting of the BBL. It invited the youngest member of the BTC as well as the chief of the Legal Team of the GPNP, Atty. Johaira C. Wahab, as the lead discussant. She was joined by some students who were tapped as reactors and co-discussants. Atty. Wahab, a young and brilliant Muslim woman lawyer, is now connected with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
This forum on the BBL simply entitled “Updates, Issues and Concerns on the Bangsamoro Basic Law” was conducted as part of the coordinated activities of the university in observance of the MWOP 2014 which bears the theme “We Pray for Long Lasting Peace in Mindanao: Give, Share, Live and Proclaim Peace.” Academic Vice President Fr. Gabriel Jose T. Gonzalez, SJ gave the Welcome Remarks in the forum that drew participation from college students, as well as faculty and administrators from all units. Many students and faculty from the First Year Development Program (FYDP) were on hand as they are currently taking the culture of peace—as part of the FYDP curriculum. (by M. Isabel S. Actub, Arrupe Communications and Advocacy)