Bangsamoro leaders lament exclusion of Mindanao issues in Sona
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — Several Moro groups and leaders in the Bangsamoro lamented President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s “no mention” of the fate of the peace process, the rebuilding of Marawi City and other issues close to Mindanao during his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.
“We fervently hope that the ‘no-mention’ of the president’s plan for Marawi and the fate of more than a hundred thousand residents still displaced by the 2017 siege does not mean abandonment or [that] his administration [considers these concerns the] least priority,” Drieza Lininding, chair of the Moro Consensus Group, said in a statement sent to the Inquirer on Monday night.
“There’s still much work to be done to ensure the dignified and just return of the Marawi IDPs [internally displaced persons] after more than five years,” said Lininding, who like other displaced residents of Marawi, continued to pine for the implementation of Republic Act No. 11696 (Marawi Siege Compensation Act of 2022), the law that provides compensation for those whose properties were destroyed or those who lost their loved ones during the five-month siege.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte signed the bill into law in April this year.
“We hope that [PresidentMarcos] will make Marawi his priority,” he said. “This will showcase his resolve and his leadership to the world. We hope that he will succeed where his predecessor failed,” Lininding added.
“We will continue to hope that he will sustain the gains of the peace process and [keep the] regional stability that we are enjoying right now,” he added, referring to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), an expanded autonomous region in Mindanao established after a plebiscite in 2019, as provided in the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Kumenta Sabdula of the Bangsamoro Youth Organization, Ustadz Yasser Sambulawan of Cotabato City and even BARMM Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo also noted how the President skirted the Moro issues during the Sona.Support needed
“President Marcos did not mention the BARMM, the peace process and the (MILF) in his Sona, what could this mean?” Sabdula asked.
“He did not mention the Mindanao peace process, what he will do about it. He never mentioned the Marawi rehabilitation. Is this intentional or he just [did not know the] issues affecting the Moro [people]?” Sambulawan said.
“[He] never mentioned anything as big an issue as the peace process,” observed Sinarimbo.
This came at a time that the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (Opapru) described as “most critical” in the implementation of the signed peace agreement on the Bangsamoro; a very critical time when the BARMM needs all political support for the peace process to succeed.
“We are at a critical juncture on the implementation of the signed peace agreements on the Bangsamoro and the transformation and normalization of former combatants, their families and communities. Political support for the BARMM is most crucial now than at any time previously,” said Opapru after it held a series of consultations in Davao and Cotabato to gain continued support.
The group Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) also noted the President’s failure to mention anything about indigenous women in his Sona.
“It is very clear that Marcos Jr. hasn’t said a single thing about the indigenous communities and ancestral domains,” Lilak said in a statement. “He said nothing about human rights, justice, and accountability. Instead, we are drowned with numbers and promises.”
—REPORTS FROM JIGGER JERUSALEM, TAHER SOLAIMAN, EDWIN FERNANDEZ AND BONG SARMIENTO
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