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Muslims mark end of Ramadan with a peace rally; calls for the restoration of the BTC version of Bangsamoro Basic Law

Around 7,000 Muslim men and women gathered at the Mahad Mindanao, Pikit, North Cotabato to participate in a peace rally last June 15 during the Ei'dul Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan. The peace rally calls on the government to restore the original version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

According to Derek Sanico, a representative of North Cotabato Composite Team (NCCT) to the Sustainable Initiative of Grassroots and Networks for Bangsamoro Basic Law (SIGN-BBL), the Bangsamoro recognizes the tedious process of peace negotiations and the efforts of the government to fulfill its promise of long lasting peace in Mindanao. However, a diluted BBL is unacceptable and enacting a watered down version will constitute the worst injustice to be committed against the Bangsamoro in modern history.

Sanico said that SIGN-BBL along with its member organizations and various sectors call on the government to restore the amended provisions during the Bi-cameral Conference committee deliberations.

The provisions to be restored in a consolidated version of BBL are the following:

  • 58 Exclusive Powers of the Bangsamoro Region;
  • Wealth Sharing of 75% by 25% in favor of the Bangsamoro Region
  • Automatic Release of Block Grant
  • Powers already devolved to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
  • Asymmetrical Relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Region and Parity of Esteem
  • Bangsamoro Police
  • Periodic Plebiscite

The peace rally in Pikit, North Cotabato occurred simultaneous with other activities organized by civil society organizations in Cotabato City and in Metro Manila.

The BTC-BBL version would serve as the basic law that would fulfill the agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

SIGN-BBL is a coalition composed of 16 Civil Society Organizations formed to support and lobby for the passage of the BTC version of BBL. Balay Rehabilitation Center is a convenor of NCCT which is a member organization of SIGN-BBL.