ANGARAY’S TAKE: Onward Bangsamoro!

By Loreta Sol Dinlayan

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/29 March 29) I was with a group of students this morning for a simple deliberation on a planned students’ organization, to be named Pandarawa. Those students, belonging to Matigsalog and Tigwahanon tribes, dream to have a space where they could unite and demonstrate their cultural identity in school.

In a university with more than 7,000 student population, the indigenous peoples’ students need to organize themselves and participate in academic endeavors without losing their ethnic identity. Challenges are yet to come; I reminded them after that hour-long meeting.

Yes, challenges are yet to come, just like the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

One provision of this agreement is the giving of an expansive and intensive political and economic autonomy to the Muslim communities, a dream-come-true for the Moro nation. With this, the people of Mindanao had a face-lift on March 27, Thursday, as the world watches the end of a 45-year major conflict in Mindanao. I hope it will be for good.

I remember the approval of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) in 1997 whereby the IPs felt the political and economic empowerment. Innate in that empowerment is the working out of the comprehensive legislative agenda and the structuring of the mandatory representatives. The Local Government Code also have provisions on these. What is the impact of IPRA to Bukidnon IPs? The fruits of IPs’ labor in economic and political ventures must show.

There are four challenges to be hurdled by the Bangsamoro to complete the Comprehensive Agreement; and equally accountable are the rest of the archipelago.

Before 2016 election, the Bangsamoro Basic Law has to be drafted, approved by Congress, ratified by the people in five-province Muslim autonomous region (ARMM) and finally the embracing of the democratic principle in electing leaders to oversee the Bangsamoro.

Drafting the Basic Law requires historical sensitivity since the Bangsamoro denies the colonial claim. The Philippine government, which is partially a colonial product, is its associate in power-sharing and wealth-sharing. This is a tough job for the Transition Commission.

The Congress could be a ‘jungle’ to the Basic Law whereby the ‘survival of the fittest’ is the name of the game. The IPRA struggled for many years before it was approved. However, there’s an assurance from President Aquino which would pave the way for its (Bangsamoro Basic Law) immediate approval.

This challenge requires cultural sensitivity among the legislators to understand the culture of a people occupying the 10% of the total land area of the Philippines. Would the political technocrats in Congress question its constitutionality? Is the dream of the Bangsamoro enough to cover its justification? I’m somewhat anticipating the clash of ideas among the legislators.

The level of concern of the Bangsamoro would be tested during the ratification of the Basic Law. This requires moral sensitivity among the people of the five provinces. Ratifying it also means reviewing the acceptability of the Basic Law and the corresponding responsibility of the Muslim communities. Broader autonomy calls for an expanded understanding of power and authority.

The 2016 election, even after the election, is the fourth determinant of a successful Bangsamoro’s Comprehensive Agreement. This could be the ultimate challenge. Are the political clans willing to provide the electorates with a more liberal suffrage in electing officials to occupy the 50 political seats of the would-be Bangsamoro governing structure? Political sensitivity to the democratic principle is a necessary threshold in attaining peaceful Mindanao.

I’m still euphoric with the signing.

Because of the final examination schedule this week, I failed to meet the Young Muslim Students Union (BSU Chapter) for a simple celebration. I had a prayer of thanksgiving and supplications for the future of the tri-people Mindanao, knowing that both Lumads and Christians bear analogous goal with the Moro. As a product of contemplation, I wrote these four challenges in my journal to drive me in tagging along the journey of the Bangsamoro as well as the Indigenous Peoples of Bukidnon.

Gali (friend) Waway Saway invited me to join the Pro-Artist, Change, Talaandig (PACT) Movement on April 9, 2014 at Songco, Lantapan. This is a clue of another venture of the IPs in Bukidnon, parallel to the new direction of the Moro communities.

(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of Bukidnon News. Loreta Sol L. Dinlayan is currently the in-charge of the Ethno-cultural Museum of Bukidnon State University, where she teaches social science and other subjects. She is the daughter of the late Datu Bagangbangan Lorenzo “Aki” Dinlayan. Angaray’s (lady friend’s) Take is her column for BUKIDNON VIEWS. She can be reached through angaray_bsc@yahoo.com.)