The Bangsamoro people as result of the hundreds of years of armed and colonization campaigns by the waves of colonizers and invaders including the colonial government of the Philippines had been marred by chaotic lives.

The systemic ethnocidal campaign against the Moro People resulted to their political disenfranchisement, massive land dispositions, economic marginalization and socio-economic marginalization that in overall contributed to the “destruction of their moral-fiber” as earliest civilized society in Mindanao long before the nationhood of the Filipinos was conceived.
The overall consequences of these historical injustices and oppression against the Bangsamoro were the major reasons why in contemporary setting, they are being cited in many research works and published book as the “most divided people” in this part of the world. This phenomena is reinforced by the existence of “rido” or clan-wars popular among the Meranao, Maguindanaon and Iranon of North-Central Mindanao. A similar considered by some as social menace is popular trade-mark of “contrara or pagbanta” for the Tausug, Yakan and Sama in the Island Provinces of Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.

On the part of the Philippine government either wittingly or unwittingly reinforced this state of affairs among the Moros by shying away in any intra-Moro conflict. It became a tradition for the both justice system and the security sectors of the government to dip their hands over clan conflicts for fear being implicated in a war that is sustained from generation to generations. The circumstances leave both parties of the conflict of no option but to use their own resources and means redressing grievances – putting the law on their hands.

The divides are severed further by political clans, various armed groupings, the tribal divides, divided Moro Fronts and various organizations where all are moving on their own respective interests ad in most cases running opposite or crossing each other.

Underlying Wisdom of Organizing CBCS 

It was under the above circumstances where the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) was conceived as an attempt response to response to the situation or at least lessens the effect of these divedes among the Bangsamoro.

The establishment of CBCS is the first step undertaken towards understanding between and among the 13 ethno-linguistic tribes of the Moro Nation. In fact not only the first but until these days, it is the only network organization of pure Moro civil society organization in Mindanao where you can find all of the 13 ethno-linguistic tribes of the Bangsamoro. In other words, CBCS provides venue for understanding and convergence the once tribal adversaries.

Unity of Purpose for MNLF AND MILF

The fundamental intent in dealing with the Moro Fronts, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is on belief that among the many groupings within the Bangsamoro, they still have posses the majority following in every level of Bangsamoro’s societal structures.

The program’s minimum objective is for the two Moro Fronts to at least talk to each other in order to have a unified political agenda in facing the Philippine government amidst the ongoing simultaneous but separate peace talks.

The initiatives started with series of dialogues and consultations with Middle Leaders of the MNLF and MILF in clustered provinces in Mindanao.

The results of these consultations were formally presented to both Central Committees for comments and or statement of commitment to support the initiatives for unity, which both fronts made positive commitment.

We are not saying positive development related to unity is solely own by and influenced by CBCS initiatives for we believed there are many other factors.

In the previous years, there was an agreement of unity forged between the two fronts known as “Cyberjaya Agreement” signed by no less than ten Central Committee members each from the MNLF and MILF. The agreement that established the platform of cooperation called “Bangsamoro Solidarity Conference”, If I remember it right. This started the shared delegation from the MNLF and MILF to all succeeding OIC Meetings.

Bangsamoro Unity and Solidarity Program 

The preceding initiatives, the “Unity of Purpose for MNLF and MILF” served as a go-signal for CBCS to engage the Bangsamoro in a larger context up to the grass-root level.

Although still the leading figures are the MNLF and MILF leaders but in order to have more inclusive and comprehensive, its target participants were expanded to include other major stakeholders in the Bangsamoro such as: (1) MILF Leaders (2) MNLF Leaders (3) Traditional Leaders (Sultans/Datus/Bai) (4) Religious (Ulama/Asatidz) (5) Political Leaders cross-cut with formal and informal sectors Bangsamoro’s societal structures in clustered provinces and municipalities where there are substantial number of Moro populace.

CBCS was able to conduct no less than a hundred dialogues and consultations in different parts of Mindanao for the past 17 years which undoubtedly yielded great changes in the Bangsamoro especially on the attitudinal and relational level either in the tribal stratum or to major groupings of the Bangsamoro.

Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmongy (BM-PUSH)

The series of dialogues/consultations conducted for several years culminated in a summit of Bangsamoro Leaders dubbed as: “Bangsamoro Multi –Sectoral Leaders’ Summit for Unity and Solidarity” with the theme “Towards Creating a Platform for Consensus-Building among Bangsamoro Stakeholders” held at Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City on December 6 – 8, 2016.

Invited guest speakers were ranking officials, from the Central Committee of MILF, MNLF; Government Officials, Supeme Datu/Sultans, Religious ranking officials and CSO leaders.

Among those results achieved in the summit is launching of the mechanism for convergence of Bangsamoro major stakeholders called: “BANGSAMORO PLATFORM FOR UNITY, SOLIDARITY AND HARMONY (BM-PUSH) with established central body and the corresponding Regional Platform asw well as Provincial mechanisms in strategic parts of Mindanao.

During the flow of the process, it is to be noted either as implicit or explicit influenced by the initiatives, there developed cooperation between two fronts, among them:

The signing of unity and cooperation between one faction of the MNLF in particular the Jikiri-Sema Wing signed with the MILF Central Committee the so called “MNLF & MILF UNIFIED DECLARATION” that resulted in the formation of the “Bangsamoro Solidarity Conference” (BSC) held at Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Mguindanao on June 14, 2008.

The forging of the MILF-MNLF Dushanbe, Tajikistan for unity & cooperation signed by no less than MILF CC Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Founding MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari on May 18, 2010 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The succeeding meetings of the MNLF and MILF Leaders lead to the formation of the “Bangsamoro Coordination Forum” as one platform of coordination between the two major fronts.

Finally, the program for unity and solidarity do have tangible effects especially related to both relational and attitudinal and societal structure to the peace process manifested by the passage into law and eventual ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law of RA11054 being a product of joint effort by the MILF and the MNLF. Recalling back that in crafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission MNLF representatives are party to it.

On the part of the Sultanate, even since the peace process commenced in 1975 until recently had been quite seems in the sideline for quite sometimes. However, with the interventions the Sultanate had issued media statements of unconditional support to the peace process. The different Royalties were obviously doing their share in pushing for passage into law of the BBL to mention few among them: (1) The Paramount Sultanate of Rajahbuayan Darussalam (2) The Royal Ladies of Sultanate of Buayan (3) The Sultanate of Maguindanao and its Royal Houses (4) The Sultanate and Kadatuan of Davao Region led by Datu Joel Bustamante and company (5) The Royal Houses of Sibugey (Zambonaga Peninsula) headed by Datu Dakula (Dacula) (6) from the Sultanate of Sulu headed by Datu Yldon Kiram (7) The Royal Houses of Sugoda Buayan headed by Rajahmuda Abdulhamid Ingkong and many other worth mentioning but due to lack of space and material time. All of them had been the forerunner of BM-PUSH in their respective areas and excreted best efforts for the passage into law of BOL. To all of them, we all owe them their efforts for sustaining unity and the passage into law of BOL.

Lessons Learned 

That the entrenched notion that it’s impossible to unite the Bangsamoro is wrong. When we started our advocacy we do conferred the matter with some prominent and intellectuals of its possibility of possibility of uniting the Bangsmoro and they said:
Shariah Judge Datukaka P. Camsa said: “As if you are bumping into a hard wall, especially on the part of MILF and MNLF but much more for the Sultanates and Datus”.

Atty Saidali Gamdamra said: “It’s a gargantuan task which is next to impossible” In the end it was made possible.