By BONITA ERMAC
MARAWI City––Thousands of Maranaos gathered at the Plaza Cabili here on Monday to make what they called as their “last stand,” and to pressure Congress to approve the original version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Ranao Confederation for Peace said the Bangsamoro people have been “repeated victims,” and yet, they still have “faith and trust” that Congress would approve the BBL in order to end the centuries-old conflict in Mindanao.
“It is now a public declaration, through this manifesto, that the only acceptable bill to the Bangsamoro people is the one that was drafted by the Transition Commission and duly certified to by the President as priority bill to Congress. Any substantial changes, ammendments and substitution thereto shall meet a resounding ‘no’ in the plebiscite being inacceptable,” reads a manifesto signed by Datu Musa Sultan, president and convenor of the Ranao Confederation for Peace.
The group strongly opposed the substitute bills in Congress, particularly the one being pushed by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr..
Angry demonstrators lashed out at Marcos, and splattered red paint on a tarpaulin showing the senator’s demonized photograph side by side his his father’s, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr..
“We are appealing to the senator to give the BBL some time and to reconsider his position,” said Agakhan Sharif of the local monitoring team. “Let the Supreme Court decide and declare which provisions are unconstitutional, not the Congress.”
The group also dropped gallons of red liquid from the Agus Bridge to symbolize Moro blood.
He said Moro blood would flow on the river if Congress does not approve the original version of the BBL.
“Hindi na kulay dugo ang itapon namin diyan, Inshallah, pipilitin namin na ang dugo namin ang aagos dito,” Sharif said.
Mindanews reported that Monday’s rally was one of the largest crowds ever gathered at Plaza Cabili in Banggolo here as a show of rejection of the “watered down” versions of the BBL.
Rally participants said in their manifesto that the “only acceptable BBL” is what was drafted by the BTC and submitted to Congress on Sept. 10, 2014.
Since Monday was also National Heroes Day, the crowd paid tribute to heroes felled under the martial law regime of what they referred to as a “non-hero,” the late President Marcos under whose administration at least 120,000 lives were lost in Mindanao under martial rule.
On a makeshift stage, Sultan of Marawi Hamidullah Atar said, “We are praying and humbly appealing to the members of (Congress) to support the approval of the original (BBL)… We are praying to enlighten the hearts of our legislators to grant us the genuine autonomy… We are praying that peace, harmony and reconciliation will prevail for the decision of our legislators and not hatred and prejudice as we experienced in the past decades and centuries.”
Fr. Teresito Soganub of the Roman Catholic Prelature of Marawi echoed the stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to support the passage of a BBL that is “rooted in social justice and promotes social justice,” a BBL that “concretely achieves the self-determination of the Bangsamoro in an identified area that remains part and parcel of the territorial integrity and under the national sovereignty of the Philippine Republic.”
Former Lanao del Sur Rep. Benasing Macarambon asked: “Why treat the Bangsamoro lesser than a barangay or a municipality which has even more powers under the Local Government Code?”
Macarambon said the substitute bills in Congress – HB 5811 in the House and SB 2894 in the Senate – diminished the powers granted under the BTC-drafted BBL. (with mindanews report / samira ali gutoc)