Human rights of non-Muslims are protected in the Bangsamoro: BTC Commmissioner Jajurie

GENERAL SANTOS City – Commissioner Raissa Jajurie of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) said the human rights of the non-Muslims, the Indigenous Peoples and Christian Settlers, which are the minority in the Bangsamoro political entity, will be protected.

“In the preamble as for the creation of Bangsamoro, it is to establish an enduring peace on the basis of justice,” Jajurie pointed out in her presentation in the 5th International Conference on Justice, Peace and Conflict in Southeast Asia held at Marco Polo Hotel in Pasig City on October 15-17, 2018.

The gathering pooled more than two hundred peace workers, human rights activists and researchers from Southeast Asian states to discuss the status of human rights, peace and conflict in the region.

Jajurie, a human rights lawyer, said, “The Bangsamoro Government shall protect all persons from harassment or any undue pressure, coercion, and violence on account of religion.”

She noted that there is fear among the Settlers which are the minority in the Bangsamoro autonomous region and that there is that need to ensure that religious freedom shall be respected in the political entity.

The speaker said the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) upholds human rights and peacebuilding citing that the creation of Bangsamoro Government is anchored on the principle that it shall promote unity, peace, justice, and goodwill among all peoples, as well as encourage a just and peaceful settlement of disputes.

“The Bangsamoro government shall exercise authority over set of powers and one of which is “human rights,” she added.

The BOL or Republic Act 11054 is the legal translation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a peace agreement signed between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014.

Passed by the Senate and House of Representatives last July, the law seeks to establish an autonomous political entity aimed to fulfill the aspiration of the Bangsamoro people for self-determination.

It will be ratified by a majority vote cast of the electorate in a plebiscite comes January 21, 2019 in the proposed Bangsamoro political entity which covers the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), six towns in Lanao del Norte, 39 Barangays in North Cotabato and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato.

The political entity shall be known as Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to be governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament headed by a chief minister.

Jajurie explained “The Parliament shall adopt measures to ensure mutual respect and protection of the distinct beliefs, customs, and traditions of the Bangsamoro people and the other inhabitants in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”

She added, “There is mandate also that whatever program that will be drawn up shall ensure gender-responsiveness in all aspects of security and peace building, including the participation of women in decision-making in the peacebuilding and security matters in the context or rehabilitation and development.”

Jajurie added the creation of Bangamoro Human Rights Commission is provided in the BOL and the requirement is that the Commission should reflect ethnic distribution.

The resource person further said the Bangsamoro government is mandated to institutionalize peace education.

“We can infuse that with peacebuilding and history of Bangsamoro so that there is better understanding among people,” she suggested.

Jajurie was joined by fellow human rights lawyer Mary Ann Arnado as the resource persons in the panel session entitled “The Bangsamoro Organic Law and Federalism: How can these new forms of governance strengthen human rights and peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro region?”

The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Ayesah Uy Abubakar, a professor of Universiti Sabah in Malaysia and member of the Southeast Asian Human Rights Network, the institution which hosted the event.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), one of the agencies of the UN that has been providing assistance in the rehabilitation of the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, supported the event.

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