Marbel, South Cotabato- The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS Inc.) and the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC-BARMM) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in a 2-day event held at The Farm Resort, Carpenter Hill, Koronadal City on October 4 -7, 2021.

The activity entitled “Convergence Meeting with Partners on Human Rights and Justice in the Bangsamoro” was attended by 52 leaders and representatives of the BHRC Staff and Lawyers as well as from CSOs and People’s Organization members of CBCS coming from different parts of Mindanao.
The signing of the Memorandum of Agreement was preceded by various activities and workshops as means of popularizing the two entities in terms of their respective mandates, structures and programs to identify their commonalities in terms of promoting human rights and advancing prevention of human rights violations in their respective areas.

In his opening remarks, Atty. Abdul Rashid P. Kalim, Chairman of the Commission expressed its gratitude to the participating CSOs as the collaborative works needed during time of infancy of the Commission. He also values the CSOs long experiences in promoting human rights and being known as human rights defenders and hoped they could be maximized during the partnership duration.

In behalf of CBCS Chair Guiamel M. Alim, Mike Kulat, Senior Program Officer in its CBCS Message emphasized that: “This is a new beginning for a government agency to work together for a cause with CSOs concretely. Adding that: “CSOs naturally operates outside the influence of the three pillars of society” (state/non-state, business/commerce, family/clan). But what matters was that CBCS needs to maintain its identity for the interest of the greater majority of the people especially those in the grass-root level. He ended by saying: “Our CBCS Chair have been reminding us that, in order for us to preserve our identity as real CSO, we need to remember that our collaboration with government agencies is guided by the following principles: “constructive engagement, critical collaboration and principled participation”, he ended.

BHRC Investigator IV, Abdilah Alik presented the vision, mission, goals, structures and mandates of the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission. He quipped that, their collaborations with CSO is not totally new as he has various experiences of working with CBCS in the past. These happened in some fact-finding, investigations and documentations of human rights cases, though informal dealing. Now that our collaboration is made formal, we can expect greater improvements of our tasks and functions as human rights body.

Another highlight of the affairs is an input from Prof. Rufa Caguco-Guiam who refreshed the participants of importance of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission’s report and recommendations which envisions to correct the historical injustices and healing of social wounds committed against the Bangsamoro. Said recommendations sought to implement the number eight component of the Annex on Normalization of the GPH-MILF Agreement signed on January 25, 2014 which is the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Component.

In closing, Guiamel Alim, CBCS Chairperson synthesized the importance of the undertakings of cooperation as crucial in any government undertakings being the government is properly allocated with funds while CSOs don’t have but are rich in experiences and with capable human resources which a government may be deficient. Combining these resources, expertise, experiences and human resources may ensure a greater impact in human rights works.

Fardju M. Indin
CPC Project Officer
CBCS Human Rights Program Focal Person