Social Devt Council Ateneo Peace Institute (API)

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is foremost on many Zamboanguenos’ mind. However, not many understand what it is. It is with this in mind that Ateneo de Zamboanga University called off work on Friday, November 21, 2014 so that faculty and staff can convene and together learn what BBL is.

"We gather because we need to learn together as well. We are neighbors to ARMM and serve the island provinces in the BASULTA area. It is the home and origin of our students and personnel. It is the place of our academic outreach, research, and social development work”, said University president Fr. Karel San Juan SJ in his opening message.

He further explained that Ateneo plays an important role in the city both as opinion maker and leader-partner in community outreach for the region.

The event was organized by the Ateneo Peace Institute in partnership with the Office of the President and the Social Development Units. The whole-day event took place at the Garden Orchid Hotel Convention Center.

In the morning, Atty Antonio G.M. La Vina PhD, Dean of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government, discussed the Issues and challenges of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

In the afternoon, Bro. Karl M. Gaspar, CSSR gave a brief historical background on Bangsamoro and Mindanao. Gaspar is a respected scholar and author of sociology, anthropology, history and economics with a special intererst in Mindanao issues.

Atty La Vina presented legal, political and practical issues concerning BBL. He further discussed the issues of core and water territories, disarmament and the Bangsamoro as an identity.

During the open forum that followed, La Vina He encouraged approaching the issue from a position of respect to the efforts made by the government and the MILF's willingness to compromise. He said that for the BBL to be successful there should be no big red flags of unconstitutionality, all terms defined in the context of the constitution, and the process should be inclusive to all stakeholders.

He invited the Zamboangueños to welcome the Bangsamoro and ensure it works. He qualified that we do not have any other alternative but peace. He believes that it will be good for Zamboanga City because there will be prosperity if the Bangsamoroworks. Ateneo de Zamboanga University can contribute to its success by helping capacitate its leaders and continue to provide educational and social development aid to its constituents.

In the afternoon, Bro. Gaspar discussed historical antecedents and future promise of the Bangsamoro. He asked the audience two questions: Why has peace remained elusive in Mindanao? And, what is the role of Ateneo de Zamboanga University in this reality?

Gaspar challenged the participants to contribute to the public sphere and continue to engage with civil society organizations in ensuring that the peace process remains sensitive to the needs of all stakeholders.

Guided small group discussions were held after each session. In his closing remarks, Fr Karel emphasized that the collective vision is peace and progress. There is a need to heal historical burden and wounds. “We are cognizant of our current realities, experience and our roots”. He invited the community to search for deeper understanding, discernment, action and engagement.

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