Posted on June 8, 2015
As members of the House of Representatives started plenary deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law earlier this week, women leaders who gathered for the Peace Dialogue with Women Leaders at the Alnor Convention Center here in Cotabato City issued a statement calling for the immediate passage of the legislative measure that will establish a more politically and financially empowered Bangsamoro entity in place of the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“A BBL worth its name.” That was how they described the BBL they wanted passed by both houses of Congress.
“We cry foul for not getting what we actually deserve for so long when what we legitimately demand is full respect to our inherent right to self-determination,” the women leaders coming from civil society organizations, peace and development institutions, people’s organizations, peace and development institutions, cooperatives, and local government units bewailed in their statement.
“We… strongly appeal to our legislators – both in the Senate and Congress – not to turn a blind eye to the sufferings we experience whenever conflicts arise in our communities,” they said.
“We are compelled to flee from our homes and stay in evacuation centers and suffer hunger and other illnesses. Our economic activities are interrupted. Our children are forced to leave schools,” they added.
The women leaders are not the only ones who say this. Data gathered by various organizations bear out their claims. A Thomson Reuters Foundation report says the Mindanao conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and, since 2000, displaced 3.5 million people, citing the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
The impact of the Mindanao conflict on women and children is also discussed in a study. Gender and Conflict in Mindanao, funded by the Asia Foundation with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID):
“Young women and girls suffer disproportionately from the negative physical and psychologicalimpacts of conflict. Armed violence and the increased poverty and isolation that accompany itinterrupt the provision of basic medical services, including vaccinations, preventative care and,for young women, reproductive healthcare. Meanwhile, children, like the elderly, are most vulnerable to the diseases, including diarrheal illness, pneumonia, and dengue hemorrhagicfever, common among the displaced living in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Developmentally, young people may have less resilience to these physical and emotionalstressors of conflict.”
The passage of the draft BBL, the women leaders believe, will give them “opportunities to live in just and dignified peace and security.”
They also believe that such is possible only with a BBL “that is neither diluted nor watered down,” one that complies with the draft “mutually agreed upon by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and submitted by the Office of the President (OP) to Congress.”
“A BBL worth its name,” they call it, a BBL that does not lose sight of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which will establish a Bangsamoro that is not less autonomous than the ARMM that it seeks to replace.
Whether or not the country’s legislators in the upper and lower chambers of Congress will hear them remains to be seen.
Author: Caloy Bautista
Source: NDBC News (http://www.ndbcnews.com.ph/commentary/a-bbl-worth-its-name)