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Thousands show up for voters’ listing inside MILF camp in Maguindanao

/ 05:30 AM September 13, 2018

PREPARING FOR PLEBISCITE Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and their relatives fill out registration forms for voters at Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao province so they can participate in next year’s plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law.—FERDINANDH CABRERA

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao — Thousands of Moro rebels have registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) scheduled on Jan. 21 next year.

One of them, Basir Amilo, a combatant in the last 20 years, registered as voter for the first time on the first day of the three-day satellite registration.

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Satellite center

“[It is] my first time and I am excited to exercise my right of suffrage,” said Amilo, who registered with his wife and three children of voting age. “Before, we did not participate in electoral process of the government.”

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This Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camp hosted one of the 15 satellite centers put up by the Comelec for the special registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.

The MILF, chaired by Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, has been actively campaigning for the ratification of the BOL, which is anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in 2014.

Once ratified during the Jan. 21, 2019, plebiscite, the BOL will replace the ARMM with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which has wider political power than the present ARMM.

Registration documents

Lawyer Udtog Tago, Maguindanao election supervisor, said the three-day registration of voters had been part of Comelec’s support for the government peace initiatives in Mindanao.

Tago said most of the registrants failed to present valid registration requirements, like their birth certificates, but this was “understandable.”

Many of the MILF combatants had not been registered with the local civil registry office for fear of getting arrested by government security forces.

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An MILF-issued identification card had been recognized as a requirement for registration, Tago said.

Mohaqher Iqbal, a member of the MILF peace negotiation panel, also registered on Tuesday.

Uztadz Salahuddin Salabi, an MILF field commander, said it was important for them to register so they could participate in the plebiscite.

Sammy Al-Mansoor, MILF chief of staff, said he was glad the MILF was given the opportunity to participate, adding, “As if this is the last part of our battle for self-governance.” —Edwin Fernandez

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Organic Law, BOL, Comelec, MILF, Plebiscite
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