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NATIONAL TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE AND RECONCILITION COMMISSION FOR THE BANGSAMORO COMING UP – DIMAPORO

The House special committee on peace, reconciliation and unity created a technical working group (TWG) that will consolidate all the inputs and position papers regarding House Bill 5669, seeking to create the National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro.

The Commission shall design and formulate mechanisms to implement the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program for the Bangsamoro which will address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, historical injustices, and human rights violations, including marginalization through land dispossession.

In formulating the mechanisms to implement the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program for the Bangsamoro, the Commission shall be guided by a framework of dealing with the past that respects, protects, and fulfills the right to truth, right to justice, and right to reparation of the victims and ensure non-recurrence of any violation. For this purpose, the Commission shall adopt its own operational guidelines and rules of procedure.

To assist the Commission in the performance of its duties, four sub-commissions shall be created with specific aspects of transitional justice for the Bangsamoro: sub-commission on Bangsamoro historical memory; sub-commission against impunity and on the promotion of accountability and rule of law in the Bangsamoro; sub-commission on land dispossession in the Bansamoro; and sub-commission on Bangsamoro healing and reconciliation.

The Commission shall be composed of a chairperson and four regular commissioners to be appointed by the President. Each of the commissioners shall be responsible for the four sub-commissions.

Among the functions of the Commission are to investigate, study, and recommend measures to resolve cases of individuals and communities adversely affected by armed conflict, serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and outstanding land disputes in the conflict-affected areas, generally, and as provided in the mandates of the sub-commissions.

During the hearing, Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo said the issue on land conflict and disputes should likewise be considered and addressed in the NTJRCB, citing that in Lanao, there are always two claimants to a land property, a Muslim and a Christian.

He said land dispute is also prevalent in all of Mindanao, and is very hard to solve unless properly defined and stipulated in the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Dimaporo also acknowledged the wisdom in filing HB 5669 seeking to create a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Program aimed at addressing the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, correcting historical injustices, and addressing human rights violations and marginalization through land dispossession.

Meanwhile, in the case of the Marawi siege, Dimaporo said the government should not lump the terror activities perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iran and Syria (ISIS) with the reconciliation process of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is considered an insurgent group with a different ideology.

There must be a clear definition of reconciliation in the Bangsamoro so that it could not be mixed up with the ISIS, he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Christopher Belmonte, author of the bill, said the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao is rooted in the legacy of historic injustice suffered by the Bangsamoro people. “Oppressive national integration policies, as well as the economic exploitation of Mindanao by external actors through the use of colonial-era land laws that enabled the dispossession of many original possessors of their land, among others, impelled the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to engage in a protracted war with the Philippine government that began in the early 1970s and lasted for close to three decades. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which broke away from the MNLF in the late 1970s, likewise engaged in armed revolt until the late 1990s to the early 2000s,” said Belmonte.

Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said that the human rights commission in the Bangsamoro is broader and highly connected with transitional justice issues. Human rights cases or incidents as far back in 1974 are historical cases and more complex that the government should work on so that they could be addressed properly, he said.

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