ISABELA CITY, Basilan, February 26, 2018 – Muslim religious leaders, clerics, and scholars or Ulama are rallying behind the enactment of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aims to provide genuine autonomy for the Moro people – a key solution, they said, that will eradicate the underlying factors that breed violent extremism.
“Our position is to strongly support the passage of the BBL because this is a solution to the problem in Mindanao,” Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason, the Chairman of the Basilan Ulama Supreme Council (BUSC), said, adding that “This is the answer to end violent extremism.”
Tarason noted that the BBL seeks to overhaul the current system in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that will help answer the root causes, which violent extremism thrives on.
He said addressing violent extremism has several dimensions. These include poverty, lack of education, unequal political opportunities, social justice and wrong teaching of Islam.
“That’s why we help campaign the content of BBL in our communities,” Tarason said, adding there is a need for the people on the ground to appreciate the BBL so they can be empowered on its objective.
Basilan Vice Governor Yusop T. Alano, who is an Ustadz, also voiced his support saying the cycle of violence in the island province has “destroyed the development. We want the BBL to be passed so that it can ultimately resolve the problem of peace and order in our island province.”
Along with the neighboring island provinces Sulu and Tawi-tawi, Basilan has been the scene of armed conflict brought about by the Moro rebellion.
On top this, Basilan is also the birthplace of the notorious terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
It emerged in this island province in the early 1990s. It led some of the country’s worst terrorist attacks, such as the bombing of a passenger ferryboat that left hundreds of people killed, kidnapping of foreign tourists, extortions, and beheadings.
“In Basilan, we have experienced armed conflict and there’s a need to end this problem,” Alano said.
“As we delay the process, many armed groups emerge taking advantage to propagate their violent extremism,” he said.
Ulama in Western Mindanao and in Central Mindanao have issued several fatwa or Islamic law to address violent extremism.
As early as 2015, the Darul Ifta of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has declared that “terrorism and mischief cannot be accepted as synonyms for Jihad or one of struggle’s methods because our religion commands us to be compassionate to all beings in the land.”
“The basic purpose of Islam is to preserve the religion, the self, the mind, the property and the dignity of all persons,” the fatwa reads.
A same fatwa was issued by the Ulama during the Ulama Summit held in Cotabato City in May, where they declared that “it is haram (forbidden and unlawful) to use Islam to justify or legitimize violent extremism and terrorism.”
Both Tarason and Alano were present during the House public hearing on the BBL in Basilan last Friday.
Same public hearing is expected in the island province of Tawi-tawi, cities of Zamboanga and Marawi in the following weeks.
The Senate and Congress target to pass the bill in March to pave the way for its ratification in the middle of this year.
The passage of the BBL is one of the cornerstone policies of the Duterte administration to achieve the long-drawn aspiration for peace in Mindanao and address the “historical injustices” committed against the Moro people.
The BBL is the legal document to operationalize and implement all the peace agreements signed between the government and the Moro fronts. (OPAPP)