Solidarity Message from the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)

As we commemorate today’s 10th Year Anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014, the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) along with our allied networks in the broad civil society and peacebuilding communities renew and further strengthen our support for this historic peace agreement, and reiterate our collective resolve for a genuinely inclusive peace roadmap that secures the present and the future not just of Bangsamoro, but of the whole nation.

We reiterate our resolve that granting the Bangsamoro greater autonomy is a major step to genuinely recognize the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and other inhabitants of Mindanao. 10 years ago, we hoped that the signing of the CAB and passing of a Bangsamoro Organic Law will ignite an end to the centuries of armed conflict in Mindanao. Anchored on this objective is civil society’s desire to help resolve the conflict through inclusive peacebuilding and meaningful dialogues. 

10 years have passed, and we are all here today not only to mark the 10th year anniversary of CAB as a significant milestone of peace and development in the Bangsamoro, but to further reflect on what else needs to be done to fulfill the political promise of the peace pact.

Indeed, the road to peace is never an easy journey. Bringing the Bangsamoro organic law into being in 2018 was a by-product of the conflict actors, the Bangsamoro and civil society’s collective decision to trust each other, heal the wounds of the decades-old Mindanao conflict and move forward from a state of despair and destitution to hope and real social progress.

Despite the setbacks suffered by the CAB in recent years, starting with the unfortunate incident in Mamasapano and the failure of the 16th Congress to pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the Aquino Administration, we believe that the CAB, and those who accept it, have weathered some of the darkest storms that buffeted our cause.

Believing that the CAB is a product not only of political negotiations between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine government, but also of the peacebuilding communities’ decades of peacemaking, we are here today, stronger and with a firmer resolve to persevere and defend the political vision and intent of what we claim as ‘Our CAB.’

The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) started galvanizing its Mindanao program and together with our tri-people partners, established the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) and subsequently, the Bantay Ceasefire, when then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada declared an “all-out war policy” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 21, 2000. Since then, along with other civil society partners, broader networks were formed such as the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), Friends of the Bangsamoro, All-Out Peace, Kaakbay Bangsamoro, among others, persistently engaging the GRP-MILF peace process. 

Today, we salute and pay our highest respect and tribute to their perseverance and significant contribution to peace and development in the Bangsamoro. The All-Out Peace (AOP) network in particular was born in the aftermath  of the Mamasapano incident and it was then when age-old prejudices and biases against the Moros and Muslims re-emerged. But AOP  firmly asserted that calls for a return to an all-out-war in Mindanao should never be an option, as any military solution to an armed conflict will even perpetuate that conflict and cause further displacement and entrench the underdevelopment of the region.

When the Bangsamoro finally achieved their basic structural requirements for self-governance which led to the establishment of the new Bangsamoro government, AOP, MPW, and Kaabay Bangsamoro came forward to offer its continuous accompaniment of the new government and the peace process through sustained solidarity building, capacity development, various grassroots advocacy campaigns and constructive criticisms when needed, but always with the perspective of conflict-affected communities as their starting point. This includes the non-Moro indigenous peoples within the Bangsamoro territory where a large portion of their ancestral domains are now being subject to contestation. 

Last year, we successfully launched the “Principles for Peace” (P4P), an initiative that seeks to set a “new mechanism, standards and metrics to support and sustain efforts for a long-lasting peace in Mindanao. A result of an extensive two-year global consultation process, we hope the P4P as a new framework and mechanism would serve as a diagnostic tool to measure the progress of the Bangsamoro peace process and would provide the communities a platform for genuine dialogue and inclusive participation that can further solidify our unities to achieve the goal for effecting peace with social justice and economic progress as stipulated in the spirit and provisions of the CAB.

The 10th year anniversary of the peace agreement calls for a celebration and everyone deserves acclaim for making this possible.

In essence and principles, our commitment to achieve just and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro is tied with concrete indicators that the CAB’s promises have been satisfied. However, beyond the CAB, lies tremendous challenges that all of us need to confront head-on. We see peacebuilding as a continuing course of struggle. We cannot achieve it overnight. Thus, the need for all of us to persistently reconvene and plan our next strategic steps. Again and again, if need be. 

A major component of the normalization annex of the CAB, that has yet to be realized is the Transitional Justice-Dealing with the Past (TJ-DWP) provision – seen as a critical strategy that could address the legacies of serious human rights violations, marginalization, land dispossession, and historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro. The state of thousands of  Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) in Marawi, most of whom have yet to return to their homes eight years after the siege of their beloved city, is a stark example of how challenging TJ has yet to be attained in the Bangsamoro. 

Among others, we believe we have an imperative task to achieve genuine national healing and this will not be fulfilled if we continue to deny or ignore the fundamental reasons and roots of the Bangsamoro’s struggle for sustainable peace, economic progress and self-determination. The quest for transitional justice is what underpins the long struggle for self-determination of the Bangsamoro people. 

Now, more than ever, in this auspicious and blessed season of Ramadan and Easter, we are optimistic and hopeful that in the spirit and principles of the CAB and other related peace agreements, history will be on our side and will offer a new round of opportunity for the Bangsamoro and for all the oppressed peoples of our nation. It is in the success of the peace process where our peaceful, progressive and democratic future rests. 

Mabuhay ang Bangsamoro! Mabuhay ang Kapayapaan! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! ###