The Bangsamoro Transition Commission started its formal work with a ceremonial session in a hotel in Pasig City, Metro Manila on April 3 followed by the 2-day session in Cotabato City on April 30-May 1. The latest was the May 16-18 special session in Tagaytay City where the 15 commissioners attended through to the end.

In the press conference following the inaugural session, media concentrated more on other issues rather than the main task of the commission to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law enunciated by the Framework Agreement as agreed by the principal parties in the peace negotiations. The second one was a continuation of the getting to know each other, building camaraderie among the commissioners and levelling-off session.

The third special session in Tagaytay proved to be fruitful. After initial diverse viewpoints and lengthy discussions that ensued reminiscent of parliamentary practice that guided the body, the commission adopted its Internal Rules crafted by the assigned lawyer-members; chose an appropriate logo that symbolizes and mirrors the geographic and other realities of Mindanao with the traditional dove of peace with the olive branch, and put in place the organizational structure and calendar of activities that will see the commission hitting the ground running as they embark on their main task of drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Banking on the vast experiences of Mohagher Iqbal, the BTC chairman, as chief of the MILF information committee and prime negotiator of the MILF for more than a decade already and his being part of the think tank of the Front and his cool stand amidst turbulent settings; the two deputy chairmen (Roberto Alonto and Akmad Sakkam), the former being a member of the MILF Central Committee and accomplished writer and reliable analyst of issues while the latter a seasoned diplomat posted on several assignments in different countries, and the choice of a brilliant and dynamic floor leader supplement the needed wisdom and energy to chart the difficult work crafting the basic law for a troubled region.

Considering the diverse ethnic origin, the geographic divide and the various interest of its composition, the commissioners demonstrated their cohesive bind to craft a historical document that will hopefully put to rest the dreaded Mindanao conflict.

Having been with them for the entire stretch of the special session one can say gradually the Commission is turning into a working commission.

The special sessions both in Cotabato City and in Tagaytay City were bankrolled by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (HDC). HDC’s country representative is Mr. Ali Salem. He was assisted by Law Dean Benny Bacani and Mike Alar formerly with the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP).