Ali G. Macabalang
Debate is essential in dynamic societies. But I am saddened to see our leaders in the Bangsamoro community and their followers often divided in different issues and concerns. What pains me more is the way they keep asserting their vested interests over the welfare of the majority populace comprising mostly the poor or forsaken people.
Vested interest is usually characterized by nafs (greed for power and etc.) and kibr (egotism), which are worldly or temporal matters our religious scholars (ulama) deemed as keys to jahanam (hell).
I am not an alim (religious scholar or authority). But common sense always points to nafs and kibr as the antonyms of sukhr (grateful contentment for what God provides) and sabr (constant patience).
Sukhr and sabr alongside fikr (concern for majority) and jikr (constant submissive remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa taala) are Islamic virtues that Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w.), his caliphs and pious followers professed as keys to the gate of jannah (heaven).
Well, the choice between hell and heaven is also a matter of one’s democratic option.
I recently floated a post cum survey in some popular Facebook pages asking readers whether they are for or against the call for extension of the Bangsamoro transitional lifespan supposedly ending in 2022. The survey drew a total of over 1,500 reactions, 99% of which involved positive response with the dismal portion dissenting.
One of the positive respondents, Datu Dino Alonto-Lucman, my cousin and fraternal brother, yielded the most candid reaction that ran like this: Even Superman will not be able to finish all mandated tasks of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to pass codes needed to build a robust parliamentary autonomous government structure.
Building the regional government system is stipulated as a political track in R.A. 11054 and the 2014 GPH-MILF peace accord. The other track is the normalization process, entailing the decommissioning of the MILF’s 40,000 combatants to transform them to peaceful and productive civilian life with a state-promised P1,000 socio-economic aid package for each.
So far, the BTA parliament has passed the administrative code, needing ample time to legislate the ordinances on local government, education, electoral process, and civil service, among others.
Authorities have also decommissioned only 12,000 MILF members, who each received only P100k of the promised P1-million aid. The remaining 28,000 others are reportedly reluctant to undergo decommissioning due mainly to the failure of their decommissioned comrades to receive all the committed fund aid meant for the education, health and decent housing units of the ex-combatants.
BARMM and Malacañang officials attributed the delay in the implementation of political and normalization tracks to various setbacks compounded by the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, to which the government has trained focused efforts and resources.
In the survey, Ricardo De Leon Dalisay (Manny Mogato in real life, a veteran and awarding winning journalist) said:
“I support the extension to give BARMM more time to succeed and implement genuine reform in the long neglected Muslim region.”
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda and Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Toto Mangudadatu filed three separate but related bills to reset the 2022 election of regional parliament members and extend the BTA transition lifespan to 2025. The League of Bangsamoro Organizations proposed a six-year extension.
Rep. Mangudadatu, chair of the House special committee on peace, unity and reconciliation, urged on Wednesday the President to certify the proposal as urgent for the lawmakers to hasten the enabling legislative processes.
He said he was worried if the decommissioning of MILF forces bogs down, disgruntled combatants might return to adversarial life.
“Constituents in the regional autonomy including my family have already suffered from decades of armed conflicts. We should give peace a chance. Peace in the Bangsamoro means peace across the nation,” he said in gist.
On the other hand, Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan, in a podcast on Dec. 13, pronounced his opposition to the proposal. He said he had allied with Lanao del Sur Governor Bombit Adiong, and Governor Jim Saliman and Rep. Mijiv Hataman of Basilan in rejecting the call. He said their group’s reasons were already conveyed directly to the President lately.
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