Tan: “Give MILF a chance”

PASIG CITY, February 15, 2019 — “Sana pagbigyan ng tao, followers, and politicians ang Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) kasi this [Bangsamoro Organic  Law] is a chance of a lifetime,” Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan appealed during an interview with a media network yesterday in this city.


(We hope that the public, followers, and politicians would give MILF a chance because Bangsamoro Organic Law is once in a lifetime)

“Implementing this agreement is like the finale. Otherwise, we will be falling into the trap of violent extremism,” Tan added.

COMELEC’s recent proclamation of the official results of the plebiscites on the BOL held on January 21 and February 6 will pave the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The BTA will be composed of 80 members who were appointed By by President Rodrigo Duterte. It will be led by a chief minister and two deputy chief ministers.

Incumbent officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government will also be part of the interim body until their term of office ends on June 30, 2019.

With the BOL’s ratification, the ARMM is abolished and will be replaced by the BARMM which will have a Parliamentary form of government.

“Mayroong significant tasking ang BTA tulad ng important legislations na dapat mapasa. Unang-una ‘yong Bangsamoro Administrative Code, Bangsamoro Revenue Code, Bangsamoro Electoral Code, Bangsamoro Local Government Code, Bangsamoro Education Code,” Tan said.

(The BTA had its significant tasking such as important legislations that need to be passed. First is the Bangsamoro Administrative Code, Bangsamoro Revenue Code, Bangsamoro Electoral Code, Bangsamoro Local Government Code, and  Bangsamoro Education Code)

The BTA, he added, may also craft a Bangsamoro Civil Service Code but it will still be subject to the review and approval of the Civil Service Commission.

MILF in governance

When asked how ready the MILF is to handle the affairs of government, Tan said “no one is 100 percent ready”.

“However, they are ready in terms of [having the] determination to achieve good governance. Iba ‘yong sincerity nila [MILF] to govern and avoid corruption,” he added.

In line with the BTA’s operationalization, the national government is asking the help of various academic institutions such as the Development Academy of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University in mentoring the MILF on the fundamentals of governance.

The ratification of the BOL will also lead to the implementation of the Normalization track of the GPH-MILF peace agreement wherein 30 percent of all MILF combatants will be decommissioned.


“We have prepared for the socio-economical packages for the combatants and their families. We are also preparing for the whole transformation of the camps. I hope we’d have one direction that is corruption-free and effective in governance,” Tan said.

The plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL was held in the core territories of the ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan. A total of 1,737,767 votes were cast with a voter turnout of 87.80%.

On the other hand, 63 out of the 67 barangays in North Cotabato voted for their inclusion in the BARMM. ###


By | February 16th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

North Cotabato LGU, stakeholders support BOL

NORTH COTABATO (February 5, 2019) – “Alam po ninyo na mahal namin kayo, at dahil mahal namin kayo, we will set you free.”

(You all know that we love you, and because we love you, we will set you free.)

This was North Cotabato Board Member Atty. Roland Jungco’s message during the Multistakeholder Forum on Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) held at Southern Christian College Gymnasium, Midsayap on February 2, 2019, only four days before the conduct of the second round of plebiscite for some areas in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte come February 6, 2019.

The forum, which was attended by residents of barangays subject for inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), was conducted in order to inform stakeholders on the salient features of the BOL and the plebiscite process.

Also in attendance were representatives of the Local Government Unit (LGU), the academe, and various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Nabil A. Tan, Chair of the GPH Peace Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF Peace Accords, urged his fellow Mindanaoans to support the inclusion of the areas in the BARMM. “This is the President’s commitment to peace agreements in order to bring about peace and development,” he said.

Some members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) who crafted the BOL were also present, including Commissioner Atty. Omar Sema who presented the salient features of the BOL; Commissioner Romeo C. Saliga who presented the features on respecting and commitment to rights of the Indigenous Peoples; Commissioner Atty. Raissa Jajurie who presented the provisions on fiscal autonomy; and Marites Completaño representing Commissioner Susana Anayatin who presented the provisions on Christian/Settler Communities.

In his presentation on the mechanics and processes on the conduct of the upcoming plebiscite, Midsayap, North Cotabato Election Officer Reynaldo Tubelonia said a total of 67 barangays are subject for inclusion in North Cotabato: 13 barangays from Midsayap; 12 barangays from Pigcawayan; 4 barangays from Aleosan; 7 barangays from Carmen; 7 barangays from Kabakan; 1 barangay from Tulunan; and 23 barangays from Pikit.

Provincial Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza, for her part, urged the residents to base their decisions on what is the best for the next generations.

“Ang kabataan ang magtataguyod ng ating napag-umpisahan at sila rin ang lubos na makikinabang (The youth will build on what we have started and they are the ones who will greatly benefit from it),” she said.

The forum was also attended by Southern Christian College president Dr. Edwin T. Balaki, Board Member Mohamad Kelie Antao, Board Member Roselie Cabaya, and Board Member Atty. Roland Jungco.

Also present were representatives of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, Christians for Peace Movement, Yaqeen Global for Peace, Unypad, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation, League of the Bangsamoro Organization, and Social Welfare Committee.

The plebiscite is scheduled on February 6, 2019 for Lanao del Norte and the municipalities in North Cotabato where a total of 67 barangays are proposed for inclusion to the BARMM.

Malacañang declared the day a special non-working day in these areas for the conduct of the plebiscite.

By | February 5th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Northern Lanao commits support to the Bangsamoro law

KAPATAGAN, LANAO DEL NORTE, 04 February 2019 – The people of Lanao del Norte affirmed their support for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) two days before the conduct of the plebiscite in this province.

A resounding “yes” thundered in the municipal gym here with thousands of constituents attending the Peace Assembly on the BOL held today.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso said the landmark legislation was part of the Duterte administration’s commitment to build lasting peace in Mindanao.

“The President wants the aspirations of the Bangsamoro to materialize and he’s the only President that can understand it,” he said.

He explained that with the ratification of the BOL, combatants from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be decommissioned. Development programs and projects will be provided for the Bangsamoro region.

MILF Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Abdullah Camlian said the BOL may be the last chance for the Bangsamoro people to achieve their aspirations.

“I-set aside natin ang ating personal interest. We want to change the status quo and reset the mindset of the people. Now an inclusive law is in our hands, kaya naman po sa plebisito, bumoto tayo ng yes,” he said.

(Let us set aside our personal interests. We want to change the status quo and reset the mindset of the people. An inclusive law is now in our hands that is why in this coming plebiscite, let us vote for yes)

Meanwhile, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Bangsamoro Transition Commissioner Omar Yasser Sema urged the people to stay vigilant during the plebiscite.

“BOL promises a democratic process as an alternative to the armed struggle that we have waged for the last 50 years. Take part in the plebiscite. Let us show them that the democratic process is true to its full extent and meaning,” Sema said.

The Peace Assembly in Lanao del Norte is part of the commitment of the OPAPP with the Commission on Elections to carry out a series of education campaigns across the areas covered by the polls to help voters make an informed decision in the plebiscite.

Also present were Munai Municipal Mayor Casan Maquiling and Maigo Municipal Mayor Rafael Rizalda, and Col. Aguam Malo Mutia, the mayoral representative from Tangkal; as well as representatives of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, Lanao Youth Council, Civil Society Organization Forum for Peace, Lanao Norte Peace Advocate Alliance, and MRRD-Lanao del Norte.

The plebiscite is scheduled on February 6, 2019 for Lanao del Norte and the municipalities in North Cotabato where a total of 67 barangays are proposed for inclusion to the BARMM.

Malacañang declared the day a special non-working day in these areas for the conduct of the plebiscite. ###

By | February 4th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Galvez urges Lanao leaders to protect BOL’s plebiscite

ILIGAN CITY, February 2, 2019 – Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. on Saturday urged local leaders of the province of Lanao del Norte to protect the integrity of the plebiscite for the inclusion of the six towns in the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) scheduled on February 6.

“I ask everyone to help ensure a peaceful and orderly conduct of plebiscite on February 6, 2019,” he told mayors and village chiefs during the information drive of the BOL here.

“Our commitment for a peaceful and orderly plebiscite demonstrates our pledge to uphold our democratic ideals, providing equal opportunities to freely cast our votes despite differences in opinion,” he added.

Galvez said the BOL is “a centerpiece legislation of the Duterte administration seen as a viable instrument to institute durable peace in the Bangsamoro which for years has been marred by political alienation and economic marginalization.”

“The BOL presents a pragmatic solution that addresses spur of violent extremism in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

Galvez asked everyone to “remain vigilant and observant in protecting the integrity of our votes on February 6, 2019.”

“I earnestly hope that our votes truly reflect our sentiments for peace and development in the Bangsamoro,” he added, emphasizing the their votes should not be swayed by political patronage or intimidation.

The last round of the plebiscite is scheduled in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato on Wednesday, February 6.

At least six towns in Lanao del Norte have been identified in the BOL for inclusion in the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Their inclusion, however, needs the consent of the entire province.

Galvez also clarified misinformation thrown against the BOL, saying the proposed inclusion of the six municipalities “does not divide the province but further widens and democratizes our opportunities for economic development and political empowerment.”

“The inclusion of the six municipalities is an opportunity for reform in governance,” he pointed out.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) had earlier declared the BOL ratified after majority of the voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) voted Yes during the first round of the plebiscite on January 21.

The plebiscite next week aims to expand the areas of the future BARMM.

The BOL is the legal foundation for the establishment of a new Bangsamoro autonomous region in Mindanao.

It is the product of the peace agreements forged between the government and the Moro fronts to address the centuries-old clamor of the Moro people for their right to self-determination.

The information drive, which is being done simultaneously in the province of North Cotabato, is part of the commitment of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) with the Comelec to carry out a series of education campaigns across the areas covered by the polls to help voters make an informed decision in the plebiscite.

During the forum, representatives from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) explained the salient points of the BOL.

“Importante na maintindihan natin kung bakit kayo nandito. Kasi kung naiintindihan natin ito, madali na lang para sa’tin to work for peace,” BTC Commissioner Datu Mussolini Lidasan said.

(It is important that we understand why we are here. If we understand this, the work for peace will be easier.)

The BTC provided some details of transition process from ARMM to BARMM.

“The BOL aims to bring to end the conflict in our region, which is supposedly the region of abundance. It attempts to put closure to the social divide. it is a social contract. It is a legislation for peace and unity,” BTC Commissioner Jose Lorena said

For his part, COMELEC Region X Director Renato Magbutay requested the people in Lanao del Norte to remind the voters in the province to answer all six questions in the ballots.

“There should be six votes in one ballot. Please remind your voters to answer all six questions, hindi lang po isa. We have to count all the votes, so hindi sayang ang boto,” he said.

Fr. Teresito “Chito” Soganub, one of the hostages held by the Maute group during the Marawi siege in 2017, asked the residents what alternative they have to pursue peace if not the BOL.

“Peace process means that the government and the rebel groups cannot use war as a medium of communication anymore,” he said.

In 2001, the municipalities of Nunungan, Tangkal, Munai, Pantar, Balo-i, and Tagoloan voted for inclusion in the ARMM. The upcoming plebiscite will give these six municipalities a chance to join the BARMM.

The plebiscite is scheduled on February 6, 2019 for Lanao del Norte and the municipalities in North Cotabato where a total of 67 barangays are proposed for inclusion to the BARMM.

Malacañang declared the day a special non-working day in the areas subjected to vote for the plebiscite.

 

By | February 2nd, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Forum for Peace continues in Lanao del Norte

LANAO DEL NORTE (January 26, 2019) – “Ang trabaho sa OPAPP is to bridge peace and bridge relationship… Mamotar man ta og Yes or No, unsa may mudaog, Pilipino gihapon ta,” Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Assistant Secretary Dickson P. Hermoso said in his welcome address during the Multistakeholder Forum on BOL at the Mindanao State University (MSU) Gymnasium in Maigo, Lanao del Norte last January 24.

(It is OPAPP’s job to bridge peace and bridge relationship… whether we vote Yes or No, whatever wins, we are still Filipinos.)

“Ayohan tano ni para sa ilaha, sa atong mga anak, sa mga apo… Mubotar ta gikan sa atong kasing-kasing… Kristiyano, Muslim, Indigenous Peoples, muapial sa political exercise (because) the voice of the people is the voice of God,” he added.

(Let us put this in order for them, for our children, for our grandchildren… Let us vote from our hearts… Christians, Muslims, Indigenous Peoples, join in the political exercise because the voice of the people is the voice of God.)

A native of Mindanao and a former member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Hermoso concluded his talk by urging the people to move forward since the war is over.

“Paduong na ta sa progress, sa kalinaw… This is the beginning of a new dawn, paduong na ta sa progress and development sa Mindanao.”

(We are moving towards progress, towards peace… This is the beginning of a new dawn, we are all moving towards progress and development in Mindanao.)

Following the recently concluded first leg of plebiscite in the core territory of ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City, the Peace Forum on Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) continues in the Province of Lanao del Norte to provide information about the BOL in anticipation of the second leg of the plebiscite on February 6 for the provinces of Lanao del Norte and some areas of North Cotabato.

Representatives from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) were also present to further inform the masses on the salient features of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Commissioner Said Shiek reminded his fellow Lanaoeños that the BOL is “the antidote to the almost five decades of conflict here in Mindanao.”

“It will be such a waste should BOL not win,” he said.

Commissioner Atty. Datu Omar Yasser Sema also appealed for the people to take part.

“Ato ng hungkagon ang pader na nagbahin sa Muslim og Kristiyano, para maramdaman nila na sila Pilipino pud, maramdaman nila nga naay gobyerno,” he said.

(Let us now break the wall that separates the Muslims and the Christians, for them to feel that they also are Filipinos, for them to feel that the government exists.)

He also emphasized the opportunities awaiting the new Bangsamoro political entity. “The government will pour so much resources in the six municipalities to rehabilitate conflict affected areas and multiply benefits under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

OPAPP also straightened out misinformation centered on the BOL, the ratification, inclusion, and the transition from Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Among the local chief executives from Lanao del Norte who graced the event were Maigo Mayor Rafael C. Rizalda, Munai Mayor Casan Maquiling, Pantao Ragat Mayor Lacson Lantud and his wife Eleanor Lantud, Former Mayor of Salvador Sultan Johnny Tawantawan, Former Board Member Col. Aguam Malo representing Tangcal Mayor Fatima Mutya Tomawis, and Former Board Member Atty. Osop Omar.

In 2001, the municipalities of Nunungan, Tangkal, Munai, Pantar, Balo-i, and Tagoloan voted for inclusion in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The upcoming plebiscite will give these six municipalities a chance to join the BARMM.

The plebiscite is scheduled on February 6, 2019 for Lanao del Norte and the municipalities in North Cotabato where a total of 67 barangays are proposed for inclusion to the BARMM.

Malacañang declared the day a special non-working day in the areas subjected to vote for the plebiscite. ###

By | January 26th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Local executives in North Cotabato support inclusion of villages in Bangsamoro region

KABACAN, North Cotabato, January 19, 2019 – Town mayors here have expressed their support for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

At least 67 villages in seven towns in this province will vote in the plebiscite for inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on February 6.

During a campaign rally here, Rogelio Taliño, town mayor of Carmen and president of the Mayor’s League of North Cotabato, said they support the inclusion of their villages in the new BARMM.

“Expect that not only the Muslims will say Yes to the BOL but as well as the Christian and Indigenous People residents in the province,” he said.

Seven villages in the town of Carmen, namely, Manarapan, Nasapian, Kibayao, Ktulaan, Langogan, Pebpoloan, and Tupig, were either unidentified in the law or were petitioned to join the BARMM.

“The logic here is very simple. The upcoming plebiscite is like having a relative who decided to get married and live outside the ancestral house. Then why would the other relatives not allow it?” he explained.

“That’s why in Carmen, we support the ratification of the BOL and the inclusion of the villages in the BARMM,” he said, generating applause from the crowd of 150,000.

Herlo Guzman, the town mayor of Kabacan, said they have been waiting for the law for a long time.

“This is our opportunity for us to achieve genuine peace,” he said, vowing to actively campaign for the inclusion of Kabacan’s seven villages in the future BARMM.

Sumulong Sultan, the town mayor of Pikit, said it is time for the Bangsamoro people to achieve their clamor for the right to self-determination.

“Being a Bangsamoro, that’s our aspiration,” he said.

From the original 11 villages in Pikit, another 12 villages have petitioned for their political units to join the BARMM.

Ebrahim Murad Al Haj, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who went to Cotabato City on Friday to make a final pitch for the BOL.

“If not because of him (President Duterte), there will be no BOL. We have been working to have this law, but it was only under his administration that finally we are on this stage already,” he said.

Murad said North Cotabato province is home to a diverse population.

“Our identity as a people is Bangsamoro. And it is not limited to the Muslims only,” he said.

Nancy Catamco, representative of the second district of North Cotabato said the BOL recognizes the aspirations of the indigenous people, too.

“We have been fighting for our rights in Mindanao. That’s why we, the IP, join you in praying that this law will be ratified,” she said.

Murad said the MILF is entering another phase of the peace implementation, which is the normalization process.

“What we are after here is a peaceful Mindanao,” he said, a place where arms are irrelevant.

“That’s why we agreed to decommission our forces,” Murad said.

The chief of the MILF Implementing Panel, Mohagher Iqbal, told the crowd that there are two meanings of voting Yes for the BOL.

“The Yes vote means we will have peace because there will be no more legitimate issue against the government,” he said.

“The Yes vote means we will have genuine autonomy. The MILF will be decommissioned. That’s our payment,” he said.

“Firearms will be put to beyond use. Private armies will be disbanded. Our fighters will be transformed and will live peaceful and productive lives,” he added.

Muslimin Sema, the former chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said the BOL “is not just an ordinary law.”

“This is a law for unity, harmony, and healing the wounds brought about by armed conflict. This law will give us a brighter future. It guarantees development for all,” he said.

“This law was written by the blood not only of the Bangsamoro people, it includes the non-Moro people, Indigenous People and Christians,” Sema said.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., said the BOL is a landmark measure “because it embodies the hopes and dreams of the Moro people.”

“It is a law that seeks to give back to the people what they rightfully deserve and address historical injustices committed against them. This was a recognition made by President Rodrigo Duterte himself,” he said.

Galvez, who has been doing the rounds in the areas covered by the upcoming plebiscite, said he is overwhelmed by the support of the residents.

“We must bear in mind that the BOL is anchored primarily on the principles of inclusiveness and convergence,” he said.

“This is a law that was crafted not only for the Moro people but for all the residents of the proposed region. One can benefit from the law regardless of tribe, religion, or personal beliefs,” Galvez said.

As former military man, Galvez said the BOL “will ensure that those who use armed violence will become irrelevant because the law will provide people with greater incentive to choose the path of peace and development.”###

By | January 19th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Duterte’s cabinet makes final pitch for BOL

SHARIFF KABUNSUAN COMPLEX, COTABATO CITY (January 20, 2019) — The Duterte Administration’s top cabinet officials arrived here on Friday to join the President in urging Moro and non-Moro residents here to support the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Unleashing the region’s full potential

In his message of support, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año noted that Mindanao has long been considered a “Land of Promise” due to its huge economic potential and vast natural resources.

Año, however, lamented that the island-region’s volatile peace and order situation has “discredited this potential.”

According to the former AFP chief of staff, he has witnessed the “horrors of war” where “countless lives have been lost.”

“We are all losers [in war]. It always leaves behind scars,” he said.

Año said that once ratified, the BOL will strengthen local governance and usher in economic development into the region.

As the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government will be given greater fiscal autonomy and more financial resources, he expects the emergence of more dynamic and forward-looking leaders.

“Good governance will follow. We will see the rise of more leaders,” Año said, as he called on the people to participate in the plebiscite and encouraged them to vote “Yes.”

“Express your sentiments by casting your votes. Let us be advocates to make Mindanao a land of fulfilment,” he said.

Key to peace in Mindanao

For his part, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said members of the President’s cabinet are unanimous in their support for the BOL.

“We in the cabinet are one in saying Yes to BOL. We support the law because the President is supporting it,” Nograles said in Filipino, drawing applause from the thousands of delegates attending the Grand Peace Assembly.

The former legislator from Davao said he believes the landmark measure “will be key to peace not only in Mindanao but throughout the country.”

Nograles promised the Duterte Administration will work closely with the new Bangsamoro government in order to bring long-lasting peace, build infrastructure, create jobs, strengthen good governance and protect the environment.

“We will work with you [towards achieving] peace and development in Mindanao,” he said.

Better than the ARMM

Once ratified, the BOL will establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao (BARMM) which shall replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The BARMM, which is envisioned to be a more powerful political entity, shall be initially headed by an 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) whose members will be appointed by the President himself.

The BARMM government will have greater fiscal autonomy as it will have the power to create its own sources of revenue and collect taxes consistent with the provisions of the Organic Law.

Under the BOL, the central government shall allocate the regional government a Block Grant which is equivalent to 5 percent of the annual collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs.

The Block Grant is expected to create more economic opportunities for residents, encourage more local and foreign investors to come in and consequently, unleash the region’s full economic potential.

Moreover, the national government shall also provide the region a Special Development Fund (SDF) amounting to P50 billion or P5 billion per year for a period of 10 years.

The SDF will be primarily utilized for the rehabilitation, rebuilding and development of conflict-affected communities in the region.

For peace, unity and progress

At the same event, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, recalled the war he fought in Central Mindanao as a brigade commander in 2000.

Esperon said the armed conflict between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), claimed hundreds of lives, drove thousands of residents to evacuation centers, and brought untold destruction to communities.

The turning point for him came when he visited one of the hardest-hit areas and brought with him chickens which he gave away to residents.

“We are able to achieve more if there is peace and unity,” Esperon said.

He stressed the BOL is a much-improved version because it “brings together” the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“Let us support the BOL for peace, unity and progress!” Esperon said.

Ready to govern

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he supports the BOL, first and foremost, because he is a Maguindanaoan.

Lorenzana said he had recently spoken to top MILF and MNLF leaders who told him their organizations are ready and now gearing up for the BOL’s implementation.

He said MILF Chairman Ebrahim Murad gave the assurance that the group’s leadership “will do it right,” referring to the law’s implementation.

On the other hand, Lorenzana said MNLF Chairman Yusoph Jikiri expressed confidence “the BOL will be good for the people.”

A golden opportunity 

In the meantime, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who was also part of the government delegation, recognized the sacrifices made by the MILF and all those who have been engaged in the decades-long struggle for genuine autonomy.

“The road to peace is a long and difficult one. You have gone through a lot,” Zubiri said.

The senator from Bukidnon, who was among the major supporters of the BOL in the Senate, promised that once the law is ratified, the BARMM government “will no longer have to beg for funds.”

Aside from the Block Grant and Special Development Fund that are expected to boost economic activity in the area, Zubiri said the region will also have increased fiscal autonomy, a parliament that is more inclusive and Shariah courts that would enhance the local justice system.

He then recalled a visit made by Presidential Peace Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr. to the MILF camp in Darapanan last year when he was still the AFP chief of staff.

Zubiri said that during Galvez’ meeting with Chairman Murad, the two released a joint statement saying: “The war is over.”

“You must realize that this (BOL) is a golden opportunity for just, dignified, lasting peace,” Zubiri concluded, as he called on the people to vote for Yes. ###

By | January 19th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

President Duterte leads call for ratification of BOL in Cotabato City

SHARIFF KABUNSUAN COMPLEX, COTABATO CITY (January 19, 2019) — President Rodrigo Duterte joined thousands of Moro and non-Moro residents here on Friday in a grand peace assembly to make a final pitch for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

“The fact we have reached this point after so many years of negotiations and interruptions, we are here,” the President said in his keynote address, referring to the decades-long peace process between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Let us forget the bitterness of the past and look forward to the future. Which means ladies and gentlemen, mga mahal kong mga Moro brother or sister, magboto kayo ng Yes,” Duterte said.

“Your approval of this law will not only serve as an expression of your desire to end more than half-a-century of armed struggle in the region, it will also serve as a testament to your determination to bring peace,” he added.

Honoring all signed peace agreements

“This landmark law was not built entirely from scratch. It echoes the aspirations and principles embodied in the past peace agreements [with] the different Moro fronts,” Duterte said, who was also accompanied by his top peace and security cabinet officials during his visit to this city.

Among the cabinet officials who joined the President were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan, Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

“Indeed, it is a product of blood, sweat and tears of many great men who came before us,” Duterte said.

The President, who hails from Mindanao, had pledged even before his assumption into office to address the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people.

This commitment resulted in the crafting of the Duterte Administration’s Peace and Development Agenda wherein all signed peace agreements with the various Moro fronts will be honored and implemented.

These include the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) signed between the Philippine Government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) forged between the national government and the MILF in 2014.

The BOL, which was signed into law by the Duterte in July 2018, is considered a groundbreaking measure as it represents the hopes and aspirations of the Moro people and is anticipated to provide a genuine solution to the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.

An inclusive law

According to the President, the law is anchored on the principle of inclusivity, being a product of a comprehensive consultation process among the tri-people of Mindanao.

“We listened to the indispensable sentiments and concerns of Muslims, Christians, Lumads, and other indigenous people and various stakeholders who also call Mindanao their own,” Duterte said.

He likewise highlighted the major benefits of the BOL, while expressing confidence it will be able to respond to the pressing issues being confronted by the proposed Bangsamoro region.

“I am proud to say the BOL has undergone comprehensive analysis and thorough review to ensure that once implemented, it will lead to better governance, inclusive political empowerment, and enhanced systems of transparency and accountability,” Duterte said.

“Your approval of this law will not only serve as an expression of your desire to end more than half-a-century of armed struggle in the region, it will also serve as a testament to your determination to bring peace,” he added.

In conclusion, the President called on the Moro people to support the BOL and vote for its ratification.

“To my dear Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, as you exercise your sacred right to vote in this plebiscite, I remind you that the power to chart the course of your future is now solely in your hands,” Duterte said.

Rallying the support of the people

For his part, MILF Chairman Ebrahim Murad admitted that the concerns his organization are now facing seem greater than the ones they encountered as revolutionaries.

“The challenges ahead are much greater than what we have surpassed in the past. It is not an easy job to transform from [being] a revolutionary to [people in] governance,” Murad said.

The top MILF leader, however, said he was confident his group will be able to overcome these challenges with the support of the Moro and non-Moro people.

“Our success lies on how we are going to mobilize our people and the other people in the area,” he said.

Murad expressed his appreciation to local government units as well as Christian settlers across the region who have thrown their support behind the law.

“To the LGUs who have shown their overwhelming support, we offer our commitment to work with you. To our brothers and sisters in the Christian faith, we offer you the hand of peace,” he said.

 “So that together, we can bring development and progress to every corner of this region,” he added.

Murad thanked the President for the unequivocal support he has given to BOL, specifically for the strong push he made to ensure the law’s passage in Congress.

“You are always [by] our side. If you did not become president, we will not have a BOL,” he said.

Not an ordinary law

At the same event, MNLF Central Committee Chairman Yusoph Jikiri said the BOL will have a great impact on the lives of the Moro people.

“This is no ordinary law. This is the product of 50 long years of struggle,” Jikiri said.

He noted that the BOL is a convergence of all the peace agreements between the Philippine Government and the various Moro fronts.

Jikiri recalled a tripartite meeting organized by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) years ago which called on the Philippine Government and the MNLF to review and preserve the gains of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

During the meeting, he said the OIC recommended that the MNLF and MILF come up with a “common mechanism” that would enable both groups to work harmoniously.

The tripartite meeting, Jikiri said, helped bridge the gap between the two rebel groups which eventually resulted to the strong partnership in pushing for the BOL’s passage and ratification.

“The BOL is better than the ARMM Organic Law in terms of resources. We should not miss this opportunity for progress,” he said.

Bound by history

In the meantime, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the Moro people are bound by their history.

Hataman said that when the region’s people cast their vote on January 21 and February 6, they will be writing another chapter in their history.

He pointed out that the conduct of the plebiscite is a testament to the success of the peace process and sends a strong message to all that the armed conflict in the area is finally over.

“In our journey [for peace], let us not forget that our success is anchored in our unity. We have been together in our struggle. We will be united in our victory,” Hataman said.

By | January 19th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

Duterte’s top execs in Sulu to underscore the importance of BOL in search for just and lasting peace

PATIKUL, Sulu, January 18, 2019 — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday sent his top security and peace secretaries here to pitch for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) days before the plebiscite scheduled on January 21.

Led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the powerhouse group was composed of National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año Jr., Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan, and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Benjamin Madrigal.

History unfolding

Lorenzana urged the more than 10,000 residents gathered at the gymnasium of Mindanao State University not to miss the opportunity to ratify the BOL.

“This is our chance to make our present situation better…We shall pass on a more prosperous Mindanao to the next generation,” the defense chief said.

“What is happening right now is history in the making,” he added.

Lorenzana said the BOL is a testament that the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao are “lovers of peace.”

“This is our dream. Even though I am not a Muslim, I grew up in Muslim-dominated area in Maguindanao, I am with you in dreaming of a prosperous Mindanao,” he said.

Lorenzana grew up in the town of Parang in Maguindanao and studied in Notre Dame College.

More powerful political entity

“The Bangsamoro people’s aspiration for social justice, equality, peace, and prosperity is shared by all peace-loving Filipino people,” he said.

Lorenzana also challenged the future leaders of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to practice good governance to make peace sustainable.

The BOL aims to establish a more powerful political structure for the people in Mindanao.

President Duterte signed the BOL on July 27, 2018. The law is part of his campaign promise to heed the Moro people’s clamor for a genuine autonomy, saying the nation needs to address the “historical injustices committed against the Moro people” in Mindanao.

Duterte Administration’s legacy

Yusop Jikiri, chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said the BOL “responds to the long-standing wishes and expectation of our people that will greatly impact the lives of the present and future generations of the Bangsamoro people.”

Jikiri expressed his gratitude to the Cabinet secretaries for gracing the grand assembly for the BOL.

“The only objective of these officials (Cabinet secretaries) in coming to Sulu is to help us achieve overwhelming victory for the BOL because this is also the marching order of the President,” he said.

“Our President is seriously concerned for the ratification of the new autonomy law for the Bangsamoro because it is the legacy of his administration to put an end to the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people,” Jikiri said.

“The BOL is the only available solution to the aspirations of our people,” he pointed out as he encourage the people to vote Yes to the BOL.

Rallying call

Nograles announced the entire Cabinet is 100% in support of the ratification of the BOL.

“We believe the BOL is the key for peace in Mindanao,” he said, narrating the work during the previous 16th Congress on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the first version of the law.

Nograles urged the people not to miss this opportunity and ratify the BOL.

“On Monday, we should unite and write in our ballot our Yes votes to the BOL,” he told the crowd.

Peace warriors

Esperon, for his part, narrated his experiences when he was a young officer assigned in Sulu in 1970s.

He disclosed that among those he engaged in an armed encounter is no other than Jikiri himself.

“Even among rival warriors, we can be friends because we have only one objective and that objective is to bring peace in our area,” Esperon said.

“We came here today because we are 100% in support of the ratification of the BOL,” he said, adding with the BOL,” it is now the time to bring the luster of Sulu.”

Template for Federalism

Año explained that the BOL is a template for the federal setup of government.

“Our present government under the Duterte administration is advocating for a federal system. The good thing here is that the Bangsamoro government is the step for our federal form of government,” he said.

Año said with the ratification of the BOL,“we can now solve the armed conflict not only the secessionist groups but more importantly the terrorist groups.”

The law, he said, will empower the Moro and non-Moro communities residing in the area.

“We will now have a Bangsamoro government with more power, more autonomy, and more resources,”  he said.

“This is the time to tell to the whole country and rest of the world that we will vote Yes to the BOL this January 21,” Año said, generating applause from crowd.

“Mindanao will be the land of real change and the land of fulfillment,” he added. ###

 

By | January 18th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments

BOL gains hundred percent support in Marawi City

MARAWI CITY, January 17, 2019 – Thousands of Maranaws rallied their support to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the upcoming plebiscite.

With five days to go before the historic plebiscite, nearly six thousand people representing various groups and sectors gathered at the Dimaporo Gym in Mindanao State University (MSU) on Wednesday for a Peace Assembly to extend support for the landmark legislation.

In his remarks, MSU President Dr. Habib Macaayong reiterated the university’s support for the new Bangsamoro Government.

“The Mindanao State University opens wide its road to you. Umasa kayo na sa pagtungo sa bagong umaga, kasama ninyo kami. Mabuhay ang Bangsamoro Organic Law,” Macaayong said.

Urging the people to participate in plebiscite on January 21, 2019, Arim Jamal Urandig, representative of the Ulama sector, said peace and prosperity will follow once the BOL is ratified.

“Let us go out and vote. Let peace happen by voting ‘Yes’ to BOL. Your vote can help attain the aspirations of our people,” Urandig said.

The same sentiment was shared by Fr. Ramon Torres, Vicar General of the Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi City.

“Peace is our common endeavor. And peace is possible with the ratification of the BOL. It provides us the avenue for the dialogue of life and faith,” he said.

Sultan Bangcola Adtha, Chairman of the Federation of 16 Royal Sultanate of Lanao, said the sultanates stand as one in support of the landmark measure.

“Today, the sultanates in Bangsamoro area are always supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte. Now that the BOL is being approved and we are at the deciding point of ratifying the law, majority of the Bangsamoro region will vote ‘Yes,’” he said.

Being an active stakeholder in the Bangsamoro peace process, the Coalition of Moro Youth President Atty. Shiddick Abantas reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to support the new Bangsamoro Government even after the plebiscite.

“We will campaign and vote ‘Yes’ in the January 21 plebiscite. We will render our unending and tireless support to the Bangsamoro Government. Kami po ang magmamana sa Bangsamoro Government. Alam po namin na kung magiging payapa ang Bangsamoro, kami pong youth ang makikinabang dito,” Abantas said.

Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, member of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, called on the people to campaign for the legislative measure to “change the minds” of the opposition.

“We are here to appeal to you, not only to vote for ‘Yes’ but to go out and campaign actively to convince the undecided and those who are decided to vote ‘No’ to change their minds and vote for ‘Yes’ instead. Why do we have to do that? Because BOL is the implementation of the agreements between the government and the Moro groups,” Lingga said.


Speaking for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Pendamu Sani said they have set aside political differences with the leadership of the MILF to move peace forward.

Nagkakaisa ang MILF at MNLF para sa BOL. We should be reunited the same way our ancestors used to be,” Sani said.

For his part, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso appealed to the people to participate in the plebiscite and protect the integrity of the democratic process.

Bantayan natin ang ating boto. Ito ay para sa kinabukasan ng susunod na henerasyon. Kaya kami sa OPAPP ay buong pusong umaapela sa inyo na sa January 21 at February 6 ay lumabas tayo at bumoto ng ‘Yes,’” Hermoso said.

 

According to the rules and procedures set by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), registered voters must write down “Yes” or “No” in Filipino, English or in their corresponding local language for every item or question. Otherwise, votes written in any other form such as through check or cross marks will be considered void and will not be included in the vote count.

Ending his message, Hermoso encouraged the people to listen to President Rodrigo Duterte as he is set to attend the BOL rally in Cotabato City.

On Tuesday, Malacañang confirmed that President Duterte will attend the BOL rally in Cotabato City on January 18 to appeal to the people to vote for ratification of the legislative measure. ###

By | January 17th, 2019|MILF, MNLF, News|0 Comments