We are now at a critical moment for peacemaking in Mindanao and the whole country.

On Monday, May 11, the members of the Ad-Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives will cast their votes on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL. Their votes will determine the fate, success or failure, not just of the proposed law but the future of a just peace, genuine progress and social justice in our country.

On the same day, we members of civil society and solidarity movements, people’s organizations, women, youth, professionals, peace loving citizens, Christians, Muslims, of other faith communities and other sectors will march hand in hand to the House of Representatives, with a hope to witness the dusk of the decades-old conflict in Mindanao and the dawn of a new order where all the peoples of this nation will finally live in the haven of peace, genuine progress and harmony. Call it a dream but it is one dream we desperately hope to turn into a reality.

May 11 will be beyond just joining a big rally. It will be a massive Citizens Action for the Bangsamoro. For those of us who have witnessed the cruelty of war in Mindanao, for the bakwits who perennially leave their homes just to avoid being caught in the crossfires and for all the innocent victims of this long-drawn war in Mindanao – May 11 is an opportunity for all of us to show our sturdy unity to achieve genuine peace. History is now offering us a golden opportunity to rectify the injustices committed not just against the Bangsamoro but for all the oppressed peoples of our nation. Are we going to shun this once in a lifetime opportunity or grab and savor it like there’s no tomorrow? We choose the latter and we hope our lawmakers will showcase the same wisdom on May 11.

We are for the passage of the BBL in the spirit and principles of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that was inked between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 27, 2014. For us, passing a BBL not within the CAB framework is like providing the Bangsamoro people with a house without a roof and plates without food. A watered-down BBL will not address the legitimate concerns of the peoples of Mindanao but will simply aggravate the already desperate situation of peace in the south. The CAB recognizes the justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and prosperity and allow for a meaningful self-governance.

It is impossible for us to find a viable formula for peace in Mindanao if we will base our judgement on biases and prejudices against the Moros and Muslims. If the House of Representatives and the Senate will pass the BBL, it should be on the premise of recognizing that the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples and other oppressed peoples of Mindanao have legitimate claims and therefore have the right to determine their own political future.

Thus, we from the Initiatives for International Dialogue, Friends of the Bangsamoro and All-Out Peace re-affirm our commitment to help see through the conclusion of the peace process and call on Congress to pass a just and inclusive BBL as we cannot afford any more delay. Yes, the BBL may not be perfect, but it embodies the democratic assertions and genuine aspirations of the Bangsamoro for their inherent right to self–determination.

So on Monday, we will witness the Citizens Action on the Bangsamoro.

Bangsamoro Para sa Bayan, Para sa Lahat! May the force and spirit of peace be with us on May 11.

For inquiries: Gani Abunda – 0998-9251786