The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) mark today as a new stage in the quest for peace and development in the conflict-affected regions of Muslim Mindanao. We laud and express our appreciation for the peace panels of both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), their various offices and agencies involved in the various processes, the long list of supporters, advocates and observers, both local and international, who have all helped in keeping the peace process on track despite the many hurdles and challenges lodged in its way. We take this time to make special mention of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and their leadership, who at times came across as unassailable rivals yet in the end, chose to stay the course, walk in step, seek compromise, then consensus and complete the task laid before them.

It is through their combined efforts that we now have the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the proposed legislation now known as House Bill (HB) 4994, that seeks to define a new character and future for the Bangsamoro. It is also the first proposed law that no less than President Benigno S. Aquino, III submitted and certified as urgent to Congress. This singular step underscores the importance many of us attach to this landmark legislation. We also note the broad-based support the proposed bill has gathered from various political parties and even unexpected quarters. This encourages us further and underscores the hope attached by many of us that through House Bill 4994, peace and development can finally take full root and prosper where conflict and displacement has long prevailed in Mindanao
At this stage, the challenge is now put forward to both houses of Congress to perfect this landmark initiative and answer with finality, the long-simmering Bangsamoro Question. We hold the august members responsible and accountable to the task at hand, expecting them to make a thorough assessment, discernment and judgment that, with a perfected HB 4994, Mindanao and the country’s future will be peace-filled and progressive as never before. While we know that the process remains rife with challenges, we pray that Congress will remain resolute and undeterred. We look forward to the special Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL to mindfully review, allow room for enhancement and favorably shepherd the bill into law.

In support of the important stages yet to follow, IID and its allied networks such as the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) commits to continuing the process of engagement and dialogue it has long pursued in accompanying the peace process. IID commits itself, its resources and partnerships in expanding the width, depth and breadth of discourse on the Bangsamoro. Together with Congress, we feel the need to inform, educate and discuss such a vital and pressing issue on as many levels as possible remains paramount, to ensure that the final Bangsmoro law delivers on its long-awaited promise.

To this end, let us all support the peace and development of the Bangsamoro!

Support HB 4994!