Opinion: Bangsamoro Parliament prioritizes human rights commission

Amir Mawallil

Posted at Dec 23 2019 09:37 PM

Injustices committed against the Moros were among the strongest reasons why our people revolted against the government. These injustices included massacres perpetuated by the state, and they served as the tipping points in the Bangsamoro people's struggle for self-rule.

Looking back on our history, we have learned first-hand, and very painfully, just how steep a price one must pay when human rights are not given the proper space and respect. We have paid much in terms of lives and sheer human suffering to learn this lesson.

On Friday, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, as the interim parliament, voted unanimously to approved BTA Act No. 4 or The Bangsamoro Human Rights Act of 2019 and create the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission.

Where human rights are not defended and upheld, there is where the seeds of conflict flourish. Before we can even consider building infrastructure for progress and trade, we need to ensure that every person’s rights are upheld and put first. Once we have that accomplished, then we can go on to the other matters involved in building a strong and prosperous community.

The BHRC is the first office created by the BTA, and this is meaningful because this act is the first one to cross the bipartisan line within the 10-month old legislative body. The role of the commission is to monitor and address abuses and human rights violations within the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro region. Whatever the political leanings of the Bangsamoro legislators may be, they all agreed to establish a human rights commission.

In the past, there have been cases where people were wrongfully charged for crimes committed by other people who bore the same name as they do. Many of the Abu Sayyaf Group's members, for example, have the same or similar surnames as many Moros, and this had led to situations where Moros are arrested and jailed for crimes they did not commit.

Back to the BHRC: We laud the leadership of the Bangsamoro Government for making human rights a priority. We are humbled that the vote creating the BHRC was unanimous, indicating that, whatever political line each member of the BTA may have, we all agree that upholding human rights should be a priority of government. We hope that the commission lives up to public expectations and fulfills its mandate to protect the rights of the Bangsamoro people.

May the stories of the Moro struggle for self-determination continue to guide this august body and the people who will staff the agencies BTA will create and empower. May we all remember that the public trust and the power the people put in their hands is meant to provide a skilled, stable and progressive government that has their best interests at the very top of mind.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.