(Editor’s Note: This is a reprint from article posted at Bangsamoro Reactors Guild written by Mike G. Kulat)

The new political landscape in the Bangsamoro is in its critical stage in its transitioning period spearheaded by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). Speaking of BTA is new parlance in governance, characterize by ministerial form and parliamentary systems. Looking at the two alone signifies dual function as form and system in one, not to mention being members or chairs of Offices and Committees within the BTA is in reality each member have multi-functions.

Being an infant political entity is understood facing with complex functions and systems and is not merely great challenge but a gargantuan one. In the outset, there is an urgent need for proactive response from the people to the call of the Interim Chief Minister, Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim during their Inaugural Session when he said he: “wants residents to participate in the attainment of “moral governance”. And that: “…we shall now involve our people in reporting the performance, or the lack thereof, of our Regional and Local Officials.”

Talking of people’s participation in governance as one indicator of “moral governance”, it is viewed that the most concrete representation of society are the civil society organizations (CSOs). Their tasks and responsibilities may not just be confined to monitoring and reporting but maximize their own resources and expertise in appropriate level of governance, should the new Bangsamoro political entity is receptive.

After all, the importance of CSOs’ role in the peace process and implementing agreements was stressed by Major Ariel R. Caculitan in his master’s thesis which stated:“Prendergast and Plumb underscore the capability of the civil society organizations in supporting the implementation of peace agreements towards sustainable peace for two reasons: firstly, they have the capability to bridge conflictual communities, and secondly, they can serve as a pressure group to political leaders to remain working toward the peaceful negotiation of the conflict. In relation to this, Santos sees the presence of peace advocates in Mindanao as one of the brightest hopes for the Mindanao peace process” . This was during the period of conflicts but it is believed that is more necessary during this crucial period of laying the foundation of moral governance in the Bangsamoro.

However, the question is how ready are our CSOs under the present circumstances? An acid test of the independence of our CSOs to stand on the side of the people which they represents vis a viz the pressure and influence of the new Bangsamoro entity. As in the strict sense of the word, civil society organizations operate in an uncoerced arena of the 3 pillars of society; (1) state/Non-State Actors, (2) Market/Business and (3) the family/clans. Can our present CSOs think outside of the box of the above three pillars?

In essence, the Interim Chief Minister Hon. Ahod Balawag Ebrahim made it clear to his colleagues in BTA in his closing statement after rendering reports to parliament last September 27, 2019: “TO PUT THE PEOPLE AT THE HEART OF OUR ACTIONS..”, “IT IS WHERE OUR SOVEREIGNTY EMANATES AND AFTER ALL, GOVERNANCE AND PUBLIC SERVICE ARE NOT ABOUT US,…IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE, IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT THE PEOPLE”