The Claretians in Southern Mindanao Prepares for Bangsamoro

Among the Claretian communities all over the Philippines, the whole Basilan Claretian community in Basilan peninsula and the four ministries namely, Claret School of Tumahubong (CST), San Vicente Ferrer Parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish (IHMP) in Maluso and Claret Samal Bajau Foundation (CSFI) will be under the Bangsamoro. It is due to the present political condition of the place. The municipality of Sumisip and Maluso are under the autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and subsequently be included in Bangsamoro. Consequently, the community in Basilan put emphasis on the preparation on the Bangsamoro during one of their community meetings. They uttered that the only thing that they can do is preparation for themselves and for their respective ministries. Thus they made mechanisms for the preparations.

The preparation of the Claretian Community in Basilan has two facets. Those are information gathering about the whole spectrum of Bangsamoro and information dissemination to respective constituents of the different Claretian ministries in Basilan. The whole idea of the preparation is supported by the JPIC commission and the provincial superior of the Philippine province. Thus, the members of the Basilan community attended different forums regarding the Bangsamoro in and outside Basilan. These were forums spearheaded by the Local Government Unit (LGU) in Isabela City last May 21, 2012, assembly of the different religious leaders convened by bishop of the prelature of Isabela Rev. Bishop Martin Jumoad, DD and meeting with different NGO’s in Basilan convened by NAGDILAAB headed by the Claretian lay Ms. Dedith Suacito last June 11, 2014. In the process the Claretians were able to gather data and able to collect important information regarding Bangsamoro. Nonetheless, the Claretians after this information gathering, planned and implemented their own forums that address to the different needs of the different Claretian ministries.

bm-preparations 2Last July 22, 2014, there was a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) forum held at Claret School of Tumahubong (CST). The forum was sponsored by CST headed by the director of the school Bro. Joseph Villarin, CMF, San Vicente Ferrer Parish headed by the parish priest Rev. Fr. Elmer Cantular, CMF and the JPIC commission. The speaker was a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Hon. Peter Eisma. The attendees were students, teachers, LGU, barangay chairmen and councilors of 29 barangays in the municipality of Sumisip, Basilan. The office of the Mayor of Sumisip was present also represented by Vice-mayor Alex Handang and some municipal councilors. Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters residents inside Tumahubong were invited also and present in the forum. The 64th IB military officers and personnel were around also as well as “alleged” MILF members and supporters. The forum started at 9:00 in the morning and ended at 12:00 noon. It was a very prolific forum and the speaker has promised that he will be back again after the law will be approved by the GPH congress.

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bm-preparations 7Another forum was held in Maluso Basilan last September 13, 2014. It was convened by Claret Samal Foundation Inc. (CSFI) headed by the project in-charged Bro. Nicer O. Natulla, CMF together with Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish (IHMP) headed by the parish priest Rev. Fr. Efren Decreto, CMF. Hon. Peter Eisma once again invited to be the speaker of the forum. It was held at IHMP Convent hall in Townsite Maluso Basilan at around 8:00 in the morning and ended up 4:00 in the afternoon. The parishioners of IHMP and the staff of CSFI were present in the forum as well as the different Samal Bajau communities. It was well attended forum. The attendees proposed that another bigger forum must be organized to cater more participants.

Last October 6, 2014, Hon. Peter Eisma once again was invited during the quarterly regional gathering of the Claretian in the southern Mindanao. The purpose was to give again glimpse about the new progress of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). It was held in Sunrise, Isabela Basilan. And it was very informative session with him. Different Claretian communities were present like the Claretian Tungawan community in Zamboanga Sibugay , Claretian community in Zamboanga City and the Claretian Basilan community.

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The Bangsamoro is a proposed autonomous political entity within the Philippine government (GPH). The proposal is part of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), a preliminary peace agreement signed between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the GPH. At present the GPH and MILF together with Office of the presidential Adviser of the Peace Panel (OPAPP) and other stake holders were able to finish the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is already passed for deliberation in the GPH congress. In response to this matter, the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Commission conducted several forums last year headed by Rev. Larry Miranda, CMF in order to understand more about the specifics on Bangsamoro and its implications to the Claretian missionaries and its missions. It was an act of a Claretian with a proactive preparation for the Bangsamoro. As the BBL progresses, there is a call for the Claretians to be more prepared and be more equipped. This call for preparation is for all the Claretian ministries much more for the Claretians assigned in the southern Philippines in Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is already in the congress ready to be deliberated by the GPH law makers. And the BBL will be implemented in the first quarter of 2015 as of the time-frame of OPAPP. The invitation right now to all the Claretians is to get involved on the progression of the BBL and to be prepared on the future implications of the law to our different Claretian communities and ministries. The Claretian must be on guard on the future development of BBL that it will not exclude the welfare of the non-Muslims especially the Indigenous People (IP). The Claretians must be the vanguard on the promotion of inclusive development inside Bangsamoro and be able to safeguard human rights to all Bangsamoro constituents. This is a clear challenge to all the Claretian missionaries much more to the Claretians assigned in the southern Mindanao.

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