BANGSAMORO. Scores of attendees of a BOL forum listen to speakers (not seen) in Muslim Mindanao recently. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will conduct a plebiscite for the organic law on January 21 and February 6 for its ratification. If “Yes” votes win, the government will establish a new political entity called Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which will abolish and replace the much-maligned Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). (Photo source: Facebook page of Bobby Benito)
SCIENTISTS and researchers of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) support the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
They have spoken up and lent their collective voice in support of the nation’s pursuit of peace and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao through the BOL’s passage.
They are members of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), one of the three councils of the DOST. NRCP is “a body of highly-trained scientists and researchers.”
One of its functions is providing advice to the national government on current issues and problems of national interest based on research.
The NRCP in December 2018 issued Resolution No. 2018-19 titled “Adopting the NRCP Statement on the Bangsamoro Organic Law and Social Peace” prepared by its Division VIII (Social Sciences) chaired by Dr. Gregorio E.H. del Pilar. NRCP has 13 divisions.
Take note that every resolution that comes out from the NRCP must first be deliberated and approved by its 17-member Governing Board headed by Dr. Ramon A. Razal.
No approval, no resolution.
NRCP endorses 5 ways to achieve healing, peace
“After a thorough deliberation, the Governing Board adopted the Statement of NRCP on the Bangsamoro Organic Law and Social Peace,” the DOST’s council said.
In total, the NRCP as of December 10, 2018 “holds more than 4,200 members across the country in different fields of natural and social sciences, engineering and the humanities.”
While expressing its collective voice of support to BOL, the NRCP also recommended five measures, which it said, “are necessary to a healing process and to building a society of peace and development.
- Address the memories and traumas;
- Encourage greater tolerance and inter-cultural living among clans and communities that respect and recognize diverse beliefs, customs, and practices;
- Capacitate communities around participatory and shared efforts in local governance;
- Enhance the capacities and skills of local authorities, particularly on leadership under the new architecture of governance that meets the demands of power accountability under the Bangsamoro Organic Law;
- Encourage and incentivize experts and scientists to share competency necessary for a local democracy to be inclusive and developmental.
Obviously, every statement the NRCP issues carry the weight of its members as a whole.
The NRCP through its Research Information and Dissemination head Maria Elena “Lynn” A. Talingdan sent SDN — Science and Digital News three resolutions, the one on the BOL and the other two Resolution No. 2018-83 on “Adopting the Statement Supporting the Creation of a Department of Culture and Arts” and Resolution No. 2018-87 on “Adopting the NRCP Statement on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Bill.”
On the Bangsamoro law (Republic Act 11054), which President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed on July 27, 2018, the NRCP scientists and researchers aligned with the nation.
Peace deeper than absence of war
“We at the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) are one with the nation in the pursuit of peace and prosperity in the Muslim region of Mindanao, forged through the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). We also recognize that the path to the realization of the BOL is complex and filled with challenges,” the NRCP said.
The Filipino scientists and researchers of the NRCP lauded the BOL “for addressing the root sources of social violence in Southern Philippines.”
NRCP emphasized that “the meaning of peace is deeper than the cessation” of what it described as “militarized encounters.”
The council also noted, citing sources such as Montiel (2012, 2013), Bulatao (1973), and Saber (1969) on their “studies on Mindanao…imply that among Muslims, peace is strongly associated with Muslim culture and land-related debates,” issues which the BOL confronts head-on.
In taking cognizant of the 18 BOL articles that address various issues that gave rise to the strife in Mindanao that broke out when the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), followed by the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) fought for independence, NRCP voiced its awareness on the passage of the BOL is just the important beginning “of a much longer journey ahead for our country.”
DOST’s council also mentioned challenges ahead posed by “dominant groups.”
“We note that political transitions anywhere, in any form, carry with them challenges such as reversal of powers to long established dominant groups, or the slow pace of policy execution, or the lack of support from citizens.
“Cognizant of these challenges, those who trust in the pursuit of the BOL see the need to utilize appropriate communal resources during the difficult transition period,” NRCP said.
Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro
At the same time NRCP said while the BOL gives rise to a form of decentralization through power-sharing between national and sub-national levels of government, it cautioned about difficulties in implementing power-sharing.
“Decentralization presents both opportunities and risks.”
On the other hand, NRCP concluded its statement with optimism.
“The NRCP looks forward to a future where the Bangsamoro Organic Law indeed serves as an agential instrument for a better life for Filipinos in the Muslim region of Mindanao.”
BOL is the legal rendition of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace accord signed by the government and the MILF on March 27, 2014.
Embodying all the peace agreements between the two parties, CAB concluded 17 years of protracted negotiations occasionally broken by major wars and skirmishes.
Figures cited by news reports put the number of people killed in the four decades of fighting at over 120,000 and scores of wounded, soldiers, rebels, civilians and other non-combatants.
The people of Mindanao, generally speaking, have placed their hopes on the BOL to finally end the internecine bloodshed pitting Filipinos against Filipinos. (EKU).