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Historical truth and Bangsamoro autonomy

Abraham P. Sakili

Philippine Daily Inquirer

02:38 AM March 15th, 2015

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As the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law continues to be discussed and debated upon, it is
important to substantiate the discussion with historical and factual data.
On the supporters side, newspaper columnist Conrado de Quiros describes its signing by the
Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a landmark event. What the
signing achieved, he writes, was to signify the breaking down of distrust Trust is what makes
for peace (Inquirer, Oct. 16, 2012).
For his part, economist Cielito Habito raises hopes and points to the economic potentials that the
agreement could bring, particularly to the BIMP-Eaga, East Asian Growth Area regions.
While the expressions of support by a number of columnists are in general positive, declarations
from international leaders like UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Union High
Representative Catherine Ashton and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are more
Opposition against the agreement ranges from direct contempt to outright rejection.
Nur Misuari, founder of the Moro National Liberation Front, has denounced the agreement as a
vicious conspiracy between the Philippines and Malaysia (Inquirer, Oct. 16, 2012). Rigoberto
Tiglao writes that the agreement is a curse to the nation (Inquirer, Oct. 25, 2012) and (a scheme)
for PH (Philippine) dismemberment (Ibid. Oct. 17, 2012).
A careful reading of the agreement, however, does not affirm such oppositions views. On the
contrary, the agreement continues to uphold and maintain the Philippine territorial integrity and
national sovereignty (Artemio Panganiban. Inquirer, Oct. 21, 2012).
Bangsamoro problem
In the Framework Agreement, Bangsamoro is recognized as the identity of (t)hose who at the time
of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the
Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, including Palawan, and their descendants (and spouses)
whether of mixed or of full blood. (Article II, Section 1)
The Philippine Muslims or Bangsamoro in Mindanao, with a total population of about four to five
million people, constitute a nationality, culturally distinct from and historically older than the
Filipino nationality.
Nationality or bangsa
Nationality (or bangsa) is technically defined as a people who because of their belief in their
common descent and their mission in the world, by virtue of their common cultural heritage and
historical career aspire to sovereignty over a territory or seek to maintain or enlarge their political
or cultural influence in the face of opposition. (Wirth, Types of Nationalism. 1936: p. 723)
Considering the complexity of the Moro problem, the underlying root of this multidimensional
system problem is the fact that the Muslims in the Philippines constitute a nationality or a bangsa
that is culturally distinct from and historically older than Filipino nationality.
Poverty, criminality
The Philippine Muslims today, as a misunderstood bangsa or people who, because of their
continuing struggle for freedom and social justice, continue to bear the burden of poverty and the
deteriorating peace and order condition, and rising criminality in their midst, particularly in their
designated region of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The ARMM has the biggest percentage of poor people (63 percent) in the country. Four of its
provinces are on the list of the Top 10 poorest provinces in the country: Sulu ranked first, Tawi-
Tawi third, Maguindanao sixth and Lanao del Sur seventh. Tawi-Tawi ranked worst in terms of
some of the population not surviving to age 40 and of the percentage of population without access
to improved water resources.
Low employment rate and few economic opportunities in the ARMM aggravate poverty problems
(Philippine Human Development Report, 2002). The recorded human development indices of the
ARMM fall below the national average.
Viewed as effects of the so-called Moro problem, this multidimensional problem needs to be
understood comprehensively and dealt with positively.
Structurally and administratively, the unitary or highly centralized setup of the Philippine
government has been inappropriate in administering peoples of different cultures with different
historical experiences, such as the Islamized and Christianized peoples of the Philippines.
Politically, the unitary setup of the Philippine government has been less responsive to the needs of
the Muslims for political empowerment and for adequate representation in the multitasks of
governmental functioning and management.
On the sociopsychological problem of Muslim-Christian relations, the persistence of the negative
Moro image in the minds of many, if not most Christian Filipinos, continues.
PH history as construct
Mainstream Philippine history has been socially constructed and tied to the structure of power. As a
construct, its language and texts are framed and carefully selected to correspond to the culture of
power operating in the sites of the production of knowledge.
The reconstructed Philippine history is without significant meaning to the Muslims because an
essential portion of the past, that of the history of the Muslims in the Philippines, has been
exteriorized, if not excluded in the mainstream writing of Philippine historical narratives.
As expressed by McM Santamaria, thus: Our apparently biased dominant Christian discourse
seems to disable us from recognizing the great achievements of the (Moros)the setting up of state
organizations beyond the level of the barangay and the maintenance of military might with the
well-tested capability to resist the West. (Business Mirror, July, 16, 2008)
History of sovereignty
The Philippine Muslims had, for centuries, maintained their sovereign independence. An account in
Book Three of Blair and Robertson (p. 190) reveals that the Spanish accounts from the 16th and
17th centuries readily acknowledged that the Muslim rulers in Mindanao and Sulu unlike those of
Luzon are accustomed to power and sovereignty.
One Muslim polity, the Maguindanao Sultanate, reached the zenith of its glory during the time of
Sultan Kudarat in the 1630s and 1640s when it had controlled most parts of Mindanao.
As to the Sultanate of Sulu, it was the richest settlement in pre-Spanish Philippines. Sulus strategic
location and possession of rich maritime and forest resources made it a primary center of
international trade. At the height of its glory, the rulers of Sulu controlled vast territories, including
parts of Borneo, such as Sabah and Kalimantan.
In international relations, the Sulu Sultanate signed several diplomatic treaties with foreign powers
Spain, Great Britain, France and the United States. What the Sulu leaders signed was a treaty,
strictly so-called that is one between two sovereign and independent states, each is recognized as
such by the other, a Jesuit scholar wrote in 1935. (H. de la Costa S.J. 1935/1965. p. 97)
How the Muslims lost their lands to the settlers is described by Dr. Peter Gowing: The Muslims
have been protesting against the sending of settlers into their territories They resented the steady
occupation of (their) fertile lands by (these newcomers). In some cases, powerful business interests
or wealthy Christians, in cooperation with corrupt bureau officials, took advantage of Muslims
ignorance or indifference to Philippine land laws and grabbed from them large tracts of their best
lands (Gowing. 1978. p. 190).
In 1963, the Senate committee on national minorities reported that lands applied [for] by the
natives were awarded to Christians and that government surveyors do not pay attention to the
minorities. (Philippine Senate, 1963. p. 4)
In 1971, the Senate committee on national minorities reported that Through either indifference,
insincerity or lack of foresight, the seeds of discord were sown when the Commonwealth
Government embarked on a policy of bringing settlers from Luzon and Visayas to Mindanao
without a parallel program of helping the natives legitimize their landholdings (and) the prior
rights of the natives were disregarded and even trampled upon. (Philippine Senate, 1971. pp. 22-
Anomalous treaty
Aside from land grabbing (Gowing. 1978. p. 190), another critical point of historical injustice was
the Treaty of Paris of Dec. 10, 1898. The anomalous incorporation of the Muslims into the
Philippines through this treaty is an ugly chapter in Philippine history.
In this regard, Dr. O.D. Corpuz writes: In Paris in 1898, when Spain and the new imperialist
United States were selling and buying a country and people, Spain sold something it did not own or
possess (Corpuz. 1989. p. 507). It was through this unjust and anomalous treaty that Muslim
Mindanao was forcibly incorporated into what is now the Philippines.
Another reflection of this unjust colonial transaction is presented by a Mindanao scholar as follows:
[T]he supposed transfer of the Spanish possession to the Americans by the Treaty of Paris and the
further transfer of the same by the Americans to the Republic of the Philippines is an exercise of the
Regalian Doctrine, plain and simple (F)or the Republic of the Philippines to base its possessory
rights from the Americans is [a] complete disregard of the historical realities before them. The
Philippine possession is to sustain the Regalian Doctrine and uphold colonialism. Worse, this
colonial act is enshrined in the Philippine Constitutions of 1935, 1973 and 1986 (Rodil. 1987. p.
This historical wrong is being remedied by minimum concession through the proposed Bangsamoro
Basic Law.
Nation-state construct
The idea of the nation-states territorial integrity or national sovereignty held to be
unnegotiable could be reassessed and reconsidered in light of history and contemporary
experience with this constructed unit of the international system. The nation-state construct was a
creation of the Treaty of Westphalia, signed in 1648, to end the 30 years of religious wars between
the Protestants and the Catholics.
The construction of the nation-state system did not take into consideration the importance of other
peoples history and culture, more so of the Muslims, in delineating territorial boundaries.
Causes of Mindanao problem
As a structural construct or work-in-progress, which is neither universal nor sacred, a nation-state
could still be refined, or its national frontier adjusted to accommodate historical truth and cultural
reality to bring about genuine international peace and social justice, in such areas as the Muslim
ancestral domains in southern Philippines.
The factors that cause and sustain the Mindanao problem are the following:
Lack of cultural awareness by the majority of the Muslims way of life.
Exteriorization of Philippine Muslim history in texts of mainstream Philippine history.
Unitary setup of the Philippine system, which has proven to be inadequate in administering peoples
of different cultures and histories.
Unleveled playing field in Philippine sociopolitical and economic affairs, and the inadequate
representations of Muslims in the running of government.
Economic problems that have reduced Muslim areas into the poorest of the poor provinces.
Land problem caused by unjust government land and resettlement policies; and
Persistence of the negative Moro image in the national psyche, as shown by attitudinal surveys
conducted by social scientists and researchers.
Extraordinary measures
Considering the complexity of the Mindanao problem, solving it according to former Sen. Wigberto
Taada requires extraordinary measures. He urged the Philippine government to take the lead in
enlightening people about the historic roots of the Mindanao problem and (explain) why the
rectification of the historical wrongs inflicted on the Moro people requires extraordinary measures
(Today, July 3, 1996. p. 11).
For his part, historian Dr. Samuel Tan says: This is not the time to hide the (historical) facts
This is the time to tell the truth to make us free indeed.
Now, a new experimentthe BBLwill hopefully be affirmed by the Philippine Congress in its
wholeness, so that what the Philippine government and its peace partners tirelessly built through a
negotiated peace agreement would not be stripped of its potentials for making peace.
Indeed, the Mindanao peace that continues to be illusive may spring from a rational and sound
government policy choice that would finally do justice to the history and human rights of the
affected peoples of southern Philippinesespecially Muslims and indigenous people, who are
directly or indirectly suffering from the menace and inhumanity of war imposed upon these
innocent victims.
(Abraham P. Sakili Ph.D. is a professor of Humanities and Islamic Art History at the UP College of
Arts and Letters, Diliman. He is the author of SPACE AND IDENTITY: Expressions in the
Culture, Arts and Society of the Muslims in the Philippines, published by the UP Asian Center in

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The Bangsamoro story
AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 30, 2013 - 12:00am

To break away from the current political upheaval against those implicated in the pork barrel scam, allow me to share with you
the Bangsamoro story. This will help us understand how the Mindanao problem came to be.

The Philippines has a long history of Moro insurgency movements dating back to the Spanish time. The Muslim population of
southwestern Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago strongly resisted colonization. The Muslim struggle was carried over to the
American period when the Moros fiercely fought the US troops.

During the late 1960s, violence associated with political disputes, personal feuds and armed gangs flourished. By this time,
tension between Moro and Christian communities escalated. By mid-1972 partisan political violence gripped all of Mindanao and
the Sulu archipelago.

After Martial Law was declared in September 1972 and when all civilians were ordered to surrender their guns, the Moros rose
into arms against the government. At first, they were small isolated uprisings but it became bigger in scope and size. One group,
the Moro National Liberation Front, then chaired by Nur Misuari managed to bring most partisan Moro forces into the fold of the
loosely unified MNLF.

The MNLF was organized by Abul Khayr Alonto and Jallaludin Santos who were at that time active with the Bangsamoro
Movement. The word Bangsamoro was coined during the inception of the MNLF. It took two weeks to decide on the name.
Abul Khayr insisted on the word Moro, because that one word carried in itself the history and symbolizes the struggle of the
Muslims in the Philippine archipelago. During the Spanish period, the Muslims were called moroz and the Christianized
population, indios. Professor Casan Cana, former MSU professor came up with the Malay word Bangsa which means nation.

According to Nasser A. Marohomsalic, who wrote Aristocrats of the Malay Race: A History of the Bangsa Moro in the Philippines,
in the first two months of 1969, ninety Muslim young men were secretly shipped to Malaysia and trained for more than a year in
Palau Pangkor; forty-one of whom were Maranaos, eighteen Maguindanaons, and thirty-one from Sulu, Zamboanga, Basilan
and Tawi-Tawi.

BTC rejects HB 5811; urges Congress to pass BBL in its

original form
ByCarolyn O. Arguillason July 30 2015 12:11 pm

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 July) The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that crafted the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law
(BBL) has virtually rejected the substitute bill of the House of Representatives as it passed a resolution Wednesday, July 29, to support
the passage of the BBL in its original form, or what was House Bill 4994 and Senate Bill 2408.

Copies of the two-page resolution, along with a three-page partial list of substantial issues on House Bill No. 5811, the substitute bill of
the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (AHCBBL), were attached to the letters sent separately to Senate President
Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.
HB 5811 or the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, was passed by the 98-member AHCBBL on May 20, by a vote of
50 in favor, 17 against, and one abstention.

[caption id="attachment_64100" align="alignleft" width="620"]


EMPTY. The plenary hall of the House of Representatives is almost empty as the debate on House Bill 5811 or the Basic Law for the
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region continued in this photo taken morning of June 10, 2015. The period of interpellation was suspended
as Congress adjourned sine die that night. It will resume interpellation on August 4. MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano[/caption]

Resolution No. 005, Series of 2015 was signed by all 14 members of the BTC, the body tasked to draft the BBL. The BTC was initially
composed of 15 members eight from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and seven from the Philippine government (GPH)
but in April 2014, after the draft BBL was submitted to the Office of the President, Commissioner Johaira Wahab of the GPH resigned to
report to work at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Resolution said HB 5811 bears substantial modifications and/or replacement of the details of the BBL.

It attached a three-page Partial List of Substantial Issues on House Bill 5811 consisting of 28 substantial amendments made by the
AHCBBL and the House Committees on Appropriations, and Ways and Means, which the BTC said are contrary to the Framework
Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The GPH and MILF signed these agreements on October 15, 2012 and March 27, 2014, respectively, with both parties agreeing that
the status quo in the relationship between the Bangsamoro and the GPH is unacceptable and that they would work on a new
autonomous political entity, the Bangsamoro, that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and put in place
a ministerial form of government.

Critics have repeatedly pointed out that the Bangsamoro that HB 5811 envisions is less than the ARMM that it seeks to replace.

Consistent with FAB, CAB

The BTC strongly expresses its support to the passage of the BBL in its original form (House Bill 4994), as the provisions of the same
are consistent with the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the peace talks; that it stands firm
that HB 4994 is the most appropriate version based on the FAB and CAB and considering that it is the one that underwent the
legitimate process of consultation with the people and engagement with the Office of the President.

The BTC also implores the better judgment of the leadership of both Houses of Congress to pass the BBL in its original form and to
henceforth act according to the terms of the peace agreements.

CLENCHED FIST. Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chair of f the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law
defends House Bill 5811, Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in a debate that lasted for more than four with
Zamboanga representative Celso Lobregat on June 10, 2015. MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano[/caption]

BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal, concurrent chair of the MILF peace panel, told MindaNews Thursday morning that that the resolution in
effect rejected HB 5811.

Iqbal did not reply why it took so long for the BTC to say its piece on HB 5811 which was sponsored on the floor by AHCBBL chair Rep.
Rufus of Cagayan de Oro City and his vice-chairs, on June 1.

Iqbal said the resolution was timed with the current Congress which will deliberate the BBL which President Aquino submitted as
number 1 priority bill.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on Saturday told reporters in Camp Darapanan that he expects the President would, in his State of
the Nation Address (SONA) two days later, reiterate his commitment to support the passage of an undiluted BBL and we hope through
this SONA, he could enlighten more those who are still opposing the BBL.


But the President only had one paragraph on the BBL and was silent onwhat kind of BBL it should be.The President merely said in
Filipino: To those who oppose this measure: I believe that it is incumbent upon you to suggest more meaningful measures. If you do not
present an alternative, you are only making sure that progress will never take root in Mindanao.

The President also asked: How many more of our countrymen will have to perish before everyone realizes that the broken status quo of
Muslim Mindanao must change?

The House of Representatives is scheduled to resume the interpellation period for HB 5811 on August 4. Only eight of 38
representatives who had signed up last month to interpellate finished their interpellation before Congress adjourned sine die on June

At the Senate, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, told reporters on July 27 that he would
submit his substitute bill next week or the following week.

Marcos in a privilege speech in early June said the BBL in its present form and substance, referring to SB 2408, would lead us to
perdition and that he would submit a substitute bill before the President delivers his State of the Nation Address on July 27.

Partial list

The BTC submitted its draft BBL to Congress in ceremonial rites held in Malacanang on September 10, 2014. This draft BBL became
HB 4994 in the House and SB 2408 in the Senate.

The partial list of 28 substantial amendments introduced in HB 5811 that the BTC said are contrary to the FAB and CAB:
1. Changing the nomenclature from Bangsamoro to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region; from territory to area, from Central
Government to National Government thereby changing the framework and certain key principles on the asymmetric
relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro that was already agreed upon by the Parties;

2. Taking out parity of esteem in the Preamble and Article VI (Inter-Governmental Relations), which is an important principle in
defining the asymmetric relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government;

3. Expanding the exception to the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro over natural resources within its territory, from the four
minerals i.e., natural gas, petroleum, coal and uranium to strategic minerals, which include the four, as well as mineral
oils and all other potential sources of energy;

4. Putting strategic minerals which is defined by Central Government under the reserved powers of the Central Government,
and not concurrent powers of Central and Bangsamoro Governments, subject only to consultation with the Bangsamoro

5. Taking away the exclusive power of the Bangsamoro to declare protected areas inside the Bangsamoro;

6. Denying contiguous municipalities, barangays, and geographical areas from petitioning to be included in the first plebiscite,
and limiting the option to join to only contiguous cities and provinces;

7. Limiting the subsequent plebiscites for joining the Bangsamoro to only two times within 10 years, and only for areas that are
within the area of autonomy under the Tripoli Agreement;

8. Expanding the coverage of the plebiscite to join the Bangsamoro to political units directly affected instead of pertaining only to
petitioning local government unit or geographical area;

9. Adding items in the reserved powers, such as banking powers of the Ombudsman, as well as all other powers not provided in
the Basic Law;

10. Making amendments that make internal security a reserved power, rather than a concurrent power, and making public order
and safety a joint responsibility of the Bangsamoro and the Central Governments, rather than a primary responsibility of the
Bangsamoro Government;

11. Limiting the powers of the Bangsamoro over the matter of budgeting as well as auditing;

12. Deleting the provisions regarding the Wali as the ceremonial head of the Bangsamoro, and that which says that majority of the
Cabinet shall come from the Parliament, thereby taking out the important elements of a parliamentary form of government;

13. Making national laws (such as the Labor Code and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) effective in the Bangsamoro even
when these laws are over subject matters that are within the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro, thereby destroying the
concept of the exclusivity of the powers;

14. Limiting the power of the Bangsamoro to creating only municipalities and barangays, to the exclusion of cities and provinces,
notwithstanding a provision designed to provide a solution to the issue of creation of congressional districts;

15. Deleting the provision that says unspent amounts of the block grant shall revert to the Bangsamoro Government general fund,
thereby disallowing the Bangsamoro to carry-over the unspent amount to the succeeding year for the optimum use of such

16. Changing National Transmission Grid to the Mindanao Grid in relation to concurrence of powers over power generation,
transmission and distribution;
17. Putting the Bangsamoro offices on human rights and civil service under the supervision of national counterparts;

18. Transfering powers over ancestral domain from exclusive powers to concurrent power, contrary to the agreement and the
Philippine Constitution;

19. Taking away properties of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Southern Philippines Development
Authority (SPDA) located outside of the territory of the Bangsamoro and transferring them to the local government units, even
when this is not contemplated in the CAB;

20. Providing that the power to contract loans shall be subject to the Constitution, which can be interpreted to mean that only the
President can enter into foreign loans, and which violates the agreement regarding the Bangsamoro power to contract loans
save for those requiring sovereign guaranty;

21. Transfering the ARMM payables to the Bangsamoro;

22. Amending many provisions on Indigneous Peoples such that they are made to be applicable only to Non-Moro Indigenous
Peoples and depriving native inhabitants who ascribe to the collective identity of the Bangsamoro from same rights and
entitlements as Indigenous People provided in said provisions;

The BTC resolution also said that there are provisions that reduce the existing autonomy, as provided in the Organic Acts of the
ARMM, by way of the following, among others:

23. Not requiring corporations with branch operations in the Bangsamoro to pay taxes therein when the majority income of such
corporations come from someplace else;

24. Requiring that the law that can be enacted by the Bangsamoro Parliament over the Bangsamoro Police shall not only be in
accordance with the Basic Law, but also with Constitution, national laws, and issuances of the NAPOLCOM, thereby extremely
limiting the legislative power of the Parliament over the Bangsamoro Police;

25. Requiring that receiving of grants and donations need to be approved by Central Government;

26. Taking out the option for the President to create a Bangsamoro Command in the Armed Forces;

27. Limting tax incentives to only those that are within the taxing powers of the Bnagsmoro;

28. Downgrading the participation of the Bangsamoro in the governing boards of state universities and colleges to mere
membership, instead of being the Co-Chair or Co-Vice Chair.

Commissioner Froilyn Mendoza, one of two IPs in the BTC, signed the resolution but added with reservation on number 13.

Autonomy framework changed

At theExperts Forumof the Cotabato City-based Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG) held at the Asian Institute of Management
in Makati City on May 29, the Bangsamoro Study Group (BSG) presented a list of at least 45 problematic provisions in what would be
known later on as HB 5811 while Mastura listed at least 18, two of these from the Committee on Ways and Means where the
Committee-approved substitute bill was forwarded and where major amendments to the taxation provisions were made(see
presentations in separate files BSG-Autonomy-Political-wordfileandBSG-Autonomy-Economic-wordfile).

The proposed amendments change the framework of the agreement of the parties on changing the status quo and of redefining the
relation between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro to a point that the Bangsamoro has been reduced into the category of
an LGU (local government unit), lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, a co-convenor of the Cotabato City-based BSG said.
In our analysis, the block grant is not a substitute for economic provisions. Youve seen how its framed. All the good economic
provisions were removed. What was left to us is the block grant, half of which is for the Department of Education, lawyer Ishak Mastura

Sinarimbo, who served as ARMM Executive Secretary from December 2009 to December 2011, made a presentation on the political
aspects of the BBL while Mastura, head of the ARMMs Regional Board of Investments, focused on the economic provisions.

The two served as lawyers and members of the technical working group of the MILF peace panel, with Mastura, who finished his Master
of Law in Petroleum Law & Policy at the University of Dundee in Scotland, serving as technical consultant on natural resources.

Early this month, a joint team of Tulay Kalinaw Mindanao (Tulay KaMi), Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI), and the Mindanao Civil
Society Organizations Platform for Peace (MCSOPP), issued a seven-page critique of HB 5811, titled Upholding the Core Principles of
Meaningful Moro Autonomy.

In its conclusion, the group said it acknowledges that the original BBL draft may still have room for catch-up enhancements but given
the obtaining socio-political situation in the country that could affect the legislative process, it is recommended to give priority focus on
how to restore the autonomy design contemplated in HB 4994 and SB 2408.(Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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