80-seat Bangsamoro parliament favors charter change

John Unson - Philstar.com
80-seat Bangsamoro parliament favors charter change
The Bangsamoro regional capitol in Cotabato City.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — The 80-member Bangsamoro parliament on Wednesday passed a five-page resolution favoring charter change, asserting it can hasten efforts of putting a durable diplomatic closure to the nagging Moro issue hounding Mindanao since the early 1970s.

The resolution that members of the regional lawmaking body, also known as the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, approved during a deliberation on Wednesday afternoon, was principally authored by the region’s chief minister, Ahod Ebrahim, Parliament Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong and Regional Education Minister Muhaquer Iqbal.

The resolution stated that it is important for the Bangsamoro community to get involved in efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution to provide leeway in addressing contentious constitutional issues that makes implementation of some of the provisions of the national government’s peace accords with Moro fronts difficult to implement.   

“It is our duty to ensure that our gains in the peace process are cemented in the proposed constitutional changes and not merely a subject of legislative act,” Balindong said during their session on whether to adopt or disapprove the proposed resolution favoring charter change.

A popular member of the parliament, the physician-ophthalmologist Kadil Sinolinding Jr. told reporters on Thursday that it is important to “enshrine” into a new charter the Moro community and the national government’s obligation to work together in keeping the fragile peace now in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“The Mindanao peace process is a peace process that has a historical dimension, supported by transnational peace advocacy groups, including agencies of the United Nations, foreign governments like that of Japan and some others in Europe and the member-countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” Sinolinding, most known as the “doctor in the BARMM parliament,” said.

Ebrahim, appointed BARMM chief minister, is the chairman of the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose two compacts with Malacañang, the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, paved the way for the replacement in 2019 of the then 27-year Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a more administratively and politically empowered BARMM.

There are senior officials of the Moro National Liberation Front, which has its Sept. 2, 1996 final truce with the national government, among them its chairman, Muslimin Sema, who are occupying high positions in different ministries of BARMM, helping the MILF manage the regional government.

Officials of the MILF and the MNLF had earlier rejected former President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for Mindanao independence, saying it can dangerously ruin the gains of their peace deals with the national government that obliges them and Malacañang to continue working peacefully in addressing decades of secessionist strife in southern Moro provinces.

Among the peace, security and governance issues that members of the Bangsamoro parliament want stipulated clearly in a new state charter is the sharing by the regional government and Malacañang of revenues from natural resources obtainable in BARMM’s six provinces and three cities.

Balindong, who is a lawyer, said that they also want a new national charter that shall clearly delineate powers and functions of the Bangsamoro regional government, for now operating via a congressional imprimatur, the Republic Act 11054, also known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

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