Between the 9th and the 13th of July 2018, the Bicameral Conference Committee of the Philippine Congress will finally decide on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The state of the Peace Process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be determined by the final version of the BBL that will be approved by the BiCam Conference. The report on the BBL will be submitted for ratification by Congress in their respective plenary sessions on 23 July 2018.

During these days, I am in a mode of confession, thanksgiving, and prayers specifically for BBL.

While praying for peace, I joined the civil society organizations in Davao City who gathered together to publicly support the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Here, I was responding to a couple of interview questions by a local television reporter. 11 July 2018.

I confess the historical fact that injustices were committed by the majority Christian population against the minority Muslim Bangsamoro. In the past 100 years, the American and Philippine government initiated resettlement policies wherein Christians from other parts of the country were sponsored by the government to resettle in Muslim Mindanao. Such policies made the Indigenous Peoples, both Islamized and non-Islamized, become minority in their own land and brought the war to Mindanao as explained in this 5-minute animated video. Also, the map below illustrates how Muslim Mindanao lost a greater part of their homeland:

I offer thanksgiving for the Creator’s mercy, as well as the mercy of the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao, both Islamized and non-Islamized, that made possible to seek the settlement of these historical injustices through peaceful negotiation. The MILF-GPH Peace Process is an active non-violent approach to correct such historical injustices. I will continue to support this process despite the setbacks along the way.

I’m praying for justice while working with our peace network to advocate for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). I’m convinced that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, with the inserted provision to protect the right to self-determination of the non-Islamized Indigeneous Peoples, along with the passing of the law that would establish the Transitional Justice and Reconcilation Commission for the Bangsamoro, would significantly advance the justice being sought by the Bangsamoro and the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao.

Finally, I’m praying that the Christians, in the Church and in the three branches of the government — executive, legislative, and judiciary, would act in love as they practice stewardship of the influence and powers entrusted them. May the Church, who have significantly benefitted from the land-grabbing by the Spanish and American imperialist invasion of the ancestral domains of Indigenous Peoples, truly repent by returning the lands they appropriated through colonialism back to the Indigenous Peoples. This act of love by the Christian institutions would initiate the correction of historical injustices in this country. Along with the Church, I pray that the Philippine government, through the Bicameral Conference Committee would pass a BBL that is CAB-compliant, consistent with what the BTC drafted, and affirming the right to self-determination of the Indigenous Peoples.

I believe in the ultimate justice of the Great Creator. I believe in the resilience of the people to continue the journey towards genuine liberation from all forms of violence and oppression.

This story is not finished yet.

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