The Bangsamoro plebiscite: fault lines, connectors, and the role of civil society

Event details


Date & time

Friday 22 March 2019


3/F RegNet Meeting Room Coombs Ext. Australian National University
ANU Canberra


Georgi Engelbrecht & Yasmira Moner


Kent Primor

After some ups and downs during the late Aquino and present Duterte era, the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) was finalized in 2018, followed with the ratification of the law by the people on 21 January 2019 and 6 February 2019. Whilst the first plebiscite already did result in the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the city of the Cotabato voted “Yes” in a surprising twist of events, the island town of Isabela City did not join the BARMM. Moreover, the province of Sulu voted for the No as well, albeit the island remains highly divisive. The 6 February plebiscite conducted in various barangays and towns of North Cotabato and the province of Lanao del Norte – both arguably arteries of the peace process, posed a reality check on the readiness of Mindanao’s tri-peoples to fully embrace the BOL as a key instrument for peace. The talk will focus on conduct, outcome and assessment of both plebiscites as well as potential scenarios for the future.

This seminar also highlights the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the passage of BOL. CSOs serve as facilitators in the horizontal dimension of strengthening people-to-people relations as manifested in their active participation during the BOL campaign. The social capital is enhanced through the range of participation of the CSOs ranging from monitoring the ceasefire agreements and civilian protection component (Nonviolent PeaceForce) peace education and interfaith dialogues (MSU-IIT Institute for Peace and Development, BUC-MTYC), and service delivery, especially in the conflict-affected displaced communities of Marawi and Lanao del Sur (Pakigdait, PAILIG and UNYPAD). These basic social services are vital in sustaining the gains of the peace process in a post-conflict environment. Furthermore, CSOs have provided social spaces through partnerships with their communities, especially among the youth on co-creating a community-driven peacebuilding initiatives and programs.

About the Speakers

Georgi Engelbrecht has been working in the Southern Philippines for the last seven years primarily on civilian protection and human rights/humanitarian law and is having a legal and political science perspective on the conflict in Mindanao, as well as the peace process. He is a German national and currently assisting the European Union’s peace-building program portfolio in Mindanao.

Yasmira Moner is a faculty member of the Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Social Sciences in MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology since 2008. She joined the Young Moro Professional Network in 2011, which is active in peacebuilding works and policy advocacy pertaining to women’s and their children’s rights, gender and development, youth leadership, community engagement and particularly the Bangsamoro peace process. She is also active in the Information and Education Campaigns (IECs) of the BOL and the Khadija Center for Muslim Woman Studies

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet