People urged to vote in BARMM poll
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged those living in the proposed new Bangsamoro autonomous region to take part in the plebiscite to enable the government to implement the law that he hoped would finally end the decades-old conflict in Muslim Mindanao.
The President made the statement after he shook hands in Malacañang with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chair Murad Ebrahim as he presented to him a copy of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which he signed into law on July 27.
A plebiscite will be held three to five months after the law is approved to legalize the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The BARMM will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was created following a 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The MILF broke away from the MNLF to continue the fight for an independent Islamic state.
Congressional leaders and members, as well as officials of the MILF, witnessed the formal presentation of the BOL at the gathering hosted by the President.
They included Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and MILF leader Mohagher Iqbal.
The President said he was “proud” to present the BOL, a “monumental” legislation just like the Philippine Identification System Act that he stressed “will not just impact peace and order and national security but will also chart a future where every Filipino . . . can enjoy the freedom that this nation proudly stands for.”
Thanks all around
He thanked former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, as well as Sotto and Arroyo, for backing his legislative agenda, including the passage of the two measures.
Likewise, the President expressed gratitude to the MILF, the MNLF and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission “for their unwavering commitment, determination and perseverance” in pushing for the passage of the BOL.
The President said he hoped the law would serve as the final trajectory for the attainment of genuine peace, stability and good governance in Muslim Mindanao.
“I ask my Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, as well as the indigenous communities and Christian settlers living within the Bangsamoro areas, to actively participate in constructive discussions about the law in your homes, in your villages and communities,” he said.
“But more importantly, I encourage you to take part in the upcoming plebiscite so that you may express your sovereign will through the ballot.”
The President asked everyone to work together in going about healing and the reconciliation process.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said the BOL “provides a glimmer of hope that at end of the rainbow, sustainable peace can be achieved in Mindanao and the whole country.”
Bankrolling the operations of the new government entity with the enactment of the BOL is “a small price to pay for peace,” House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya said on Monday. —WITH A REPORT FROM MARLON RAMOS
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