Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process (OPAPP) or a national umbrella of non-government organizations called Code-NGO? Ms. Mhafe Del Mundo, project manager of the Code-NGO, asserted that the forum, which the Bohol media alleged as a “scam,” was initiated by the NGOs and not the OPAPP. Atty. Sittie Amirah Pendatun, legal team member of the Government of the Philippines Peace Panel, said that she was jus invited as a resource person. She tackled “General Cost of Armed Conflict” in Muslim Mindanao during the said forum.
But when refund of the expenses, such as travel, of the forum participants was disbursed, Code-NGO used the “Acknowledgment Receipt” of the OPAPP. The amounts of refund vary, a Bohol mediaman, who claimed his refund, said.
But the question remained who really funded the said forum, a participant said in an interview, while expressing doubts over the fund disbursement. Meanwhile, the call for support for the approval of the BBL, which is now dubbed the Basic Law for Bangsamoro of Autonomous Region (BLBAR) under the House of Representatives version, was evident during the forum despite rationale given by Code-NGO that it’s just an information dissemination on BBL.
The forum, instead, turned into a lobbying weapon that appeared to be employing “damage control” because of criticisms it encountered when the draft BBL was submitted to Congress for consideration.
Del Mundo said in her power point presentation to the local non-government organizations (NGOS) and members of the civil society “ask your respective representatives in Congress and your partners and members to support the Bangsamoro people.”
And she clarified that the move (lobby) is the initiative of the group and not of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Peace Process OPAPP) as earlier being construed. She said that they just want to make dissemination of correct information on BBL.
Among the objectives of the group during the said forum is to “achieve the aspirations for sustainable development” when civil society’s participation is strong, Del Mundo said.
The lobbying effort is also bolstered with the distribution of colored post card marked “Global Day of Citizen Action” dated 16 May 2015 with a child that may be of Muslim roots squatting while holding a pentel pen assisted by a mother in drawing something on the paper.
At the back is marked with lines for sender and addressee on the right corner with the following text on its left: “I call on congress to stay the course of peace and pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) – one which remains true to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the aspirations of all who have participated in the peace process and of all peace loving Filipinos.”
The second pragraph reads: “I call for all out peace and denounce the prejudices against my fellow Filipino Muslim sisters and brothers.” And the loast paragraph says “My dear representative, please voice the stand of not just one of your constituents, but of all Filipinos who long for peace and development. Please vote for the approval of the BBL.”
And Ms. Analisa Ugay agreed that the forum is somewhat “putting the cart head of the horse” when asked of the timing, why only now this forum is being pushed through when in fact BBL is being debated already in the House plenary starting Monday.
“Better late than never,” countered Ugay, who presented the historical background and root causes of the Mindanao conflict. Ugay, whose parents hail from Bohol, is the project officer of the Balay Rehabilitation, Inc,, one of the prime movers of the said forum held at MetroCenter Hotel yesterday.
But she did not categrically answer on the query on what’s the use of the forum’s outputs in the crafting or approving of the BBL, saying that the OPPAP is in the best position to answer it.
Del Mundo, who appeared as if mounting a counter publicity, said that BBL is constitutional, citing provisions of the basic law of the land and it will not force on indigenous peoples to become Bangsamoro nor does it include all regions. “BBL will not run by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” who negotiated with the government of the Philippines and underwent in the peace process until the Comprehensive Agreement for Bangsamor (CAB) was reached.
BBL “provides 75% in all national taxes, charges, fees collections in Bangsamoro will be given to Bangsamoro government,” Del Mundo said. The forum is a joint project of the Code-NGO, Central Visayas network of NGOs, PMP, Bohol Alliance of NGOs and Balay Rehabilitation Center, Inc. (rvo)