The Bangsmoro Basic Law (BBL) could have been the legacy of a visionary 16th Congress, working to inspire an entire nation, uniting all Filipinos in a common desire for a just and sustainable peace in our time. The 16th Congress’ passage of the BBL would have provided the clearest answer yet to the long-simmering Mindanao Question that has drawn tears, sweat, blood and lives from many of our generations, past and present alike.

The BBL could have been a lasting legacy of an administration that vowed to straighten the path on a failed experiment, granting the Moro people an equal place at the table, an equal voice in the discourse, a homeland to govern with Moro pride and dignity.

The BBL could have been the foundation for a Moro homeland, long fought for and idealized. A functioning Bangsamoro would have been the yardstick by which all of the sultanates besieged, battles waged and lives lost through centuries could be measured against and not be found wanting.

The BBL could have been a beacon for peace to show this world, wracked by dissension, conflict and war, what peace can truly mean and offer. An unfolding promise Filipinos collectively and proudly crafted and realized in a world now deeply divided by intolerance, misunderstanding, extremism and hate.

The BBL could have been the expression that the Philippines had matured into a nation of note, rising united from its divided past, collectively harnessing one and all on a common roadmap for peace in Mindanao.

For many of us witnessing events unfolding now, that was the promise held by the BBL…

Sadly, all we have now is a BBL left dead in its tracks, abandoned by most – even by the erstwhile gung ho leaders of the 16th Congress – with its future iteration left to a new administration to define all over again.

For now, the BBL serves as yet another, blazing footnote on the long list of peace efforts for Mindanao. But looking deeper, should we now leave it at that?

We can choose to accept this momentary defeat, swallowing the bitter loss of the BBL’s non-passage, letting it join other previous failures at peace. Or should we turn this heartbreak into a new challenge for greater efforts at peacebuilding, ensuring greater grassroots community involvement, earnestly working for the education of all stakeholders, pushing stronger advocacies aimed at galvanizing our collective will to one task and one ideal, that of peace in Mindanao?

That could be the BBL’s legacy for us.

No matter what the BBL’s final eulogy may bear, our tasks as peacebuilders remain constant. We must now take the BBL as a benchmark, a milestone of the furthest our advocacy has ever achieved in garnering peace for Mindanao. The BBL taught us how to define the peace, now we must address the greater challenge of putting peace in place once and for all.

This should now drive our advocacies, our discourse and our selves. This should be the legacy we must now aspire for. This is the continuing promise of the BBL.

For a true and lasting peace taking root in Mindanao.

All Out Peace! Padayon!