The BBL on the Mountaintop
Mindanao’s long and bloody journey to peace reached yet another important milestone when on September 10 President Aquino ceremoniously submitted the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress. He had certified it as a priority measure, and leaders of the House and Senate vowed to pass it into law in quickest time, so that by 2016 there shall be formed a new and presumably stronger autonomous government that will propel a new mechanism and spirit of socio-economic welfare for Filipino Muslims and co-habitant indigenous peoples.
The BBL, though yet to be forged into an organic act, appears to be more sophisticated than all previous Mindanao peace accords, all of which had failed. The Ramos-Misuari 1996 FPA eventually led to the Zamboanga Siege last year; there seems to be a hidden logic, the comic hand of God, in the fact that the BBL was made public on the occasion of the anniversary that attack.
Let us hope and pray that the Sisyphian stone as embodied by the BBL will remain atop the mythological mountain and not roll down again. The spoilers of peace whether Christians or Muslims never sleep. As it is, there are the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who although they emerged from the ribs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seem beyond the brotherly persuasions of the latter; then the Abu Sayyafs, Islamic Command and other lost commands of the MNLF, Jemaah Islamiyah, and what have you. If the reports are true, the local radical ranks may soon include a faction of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – and they have logistics from Middle East oil.
The establishment of an authentic Muslim autonomous government can help deflect or lessen these Hydra-like forces of violence from rebellion and terrorism. That will be one of the more urgent missions of the MILF-led government in waiting. That is why folks like Zamboanguenos who staunchly oppose or are fearful of the BBL and its implications have more overriding reason to instead support it. As has been said by the good saint of peace Francis (not the sitting Pope), humans cannot advance without daring to undertake the impossible. (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)