DECLARATION OF SUPPORT FOR THE PASSAGE OF
BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW – House Bill No. 6475 and Senate Bill 1717
We, the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), a network of non-government organizations, people’s organizations, and religious/church-based organizations and whose members are lay development workers, priests, nuns and bishops would like to reiterate our support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which we believe will facilitate the fulfilment of the Bangsamoro’s aspiration for self- determination, genuine peace and development.
We believe that the concern for the common good as articulated by our Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ should propel us to support our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters in their quest to address the long history of injustice and marginalization of the Bangsamoro people. We need to support a law institutionalizing a system of self-governance and self-determination, addressing the roots of social injustice, and ultimately lead to peace and development of the Bangsamoro communities. At the core of every Christian faith is our concern for common good, which means the well-being of each and every one specially the most marginalized people and the protection of our environment or natural resources available.
We acknowledge that there are indigenous peoples living peacefully and in harmony in the Bangsamoro claimed territories, even before Spanish colonization. They are also marginalized and left-out despite the enactment of the Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA) and organization of government agencies such as the National Commission on the Indigenous People (NCIP) mandated to protect them. It has become apparent that there is no guarantee for a genuine inclusion and participation of Indigenous Peoples in development unless they assert and fight for their rights.
We are also concerned about the lack of open platforms and mechanisms for participation in public consultations by the Bangsamoro people and other IP communities’ on managing and protecting their habitat and natural resources against misplaced development efforts. The mineral extraction/mining in Mindanao continue to thrive and operate, as well as coal mining.
There are 39 coal mining companies operating in Mindanao area, under development/production and exploration phases according to Department of Energy’s Coal Operating Contract Holders (COC) report on 2017 of June. As of January 31, 2018, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) approved around 100 Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) and about 57 more applied and are under review.
We believe that HB 6475 and SB 1717 versions of the BBL, products of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), approximates the general aspirations of the various stakeholders in the Bangsamoro. We commend the bills as it articulate the principles of sustainable development, social and transitional justice, fiscal autonomy, political identity; acknowledges diverse indigenous peoples inside the Bangsamoro territory as well as their rights over their ancestral domains and their authority over their natural resources.
And even as PMPI Network, pushes for the adoption of a consolidated bill coming from both houses, we would like to offer some thoughts and concerns on some provisions of the Bill:
1 – Article XIII Section 11 on Preferential Rights to Bona Fide Inhabitants of the Bangsamoro. The line, “Existing rights over the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be respected until the expiration of the corresponding leases, permits, franchises, or concessions, unless legally terminated”. During transfer of jurisdiction, the Bangsamoro should have “the power and authority” not only “the right” to review these contracts at any time and to take actions on recommendation resulting from such reviews.
2 – Article XIII Section 12 on Economy and Patrimony. We see the acknowledgement of diverse indigenous groups in the Bangsamoro territory but we are concerned of the fact that the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) was not recognized as the line “The Bangsamoro Parliament shall enact a law recognizing the rights of the indigenous peoples in the Bangsamoro in relation to natural resources…” While IPRA may not be perfect, it has already enshrined into law protection of the IP rights on their ancestral domains and respect for their culture, among others. To strengthen the protection of their rights, we reiterate our position to recognize IPRA, especially in the process of crafting the enabling law for indigenous peoples.
If passed, these provisions will meet and propel the aspirations of Bangsamoro people in realizing their long struggle for self-determination. Therefore, we urge that these recommendations be considered in the final version of the BBL.
We, therefore, call and appeal to all sectors, groups, and legislators for unity and transparency to ensure that the provisions of the BBL as well as their implementation serve the common good the spirit of the law.
Pass the BTC BBL now!