MILF, MNLF in rare show of unity for BOL ratification

Published December 11, 2018, 3:48 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Ali Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), alongside local and national officials, led a mammoth crowd in launching here, Monday, a massive campaign for the ratification of Republic Act No. 11054, or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

B.B.L. KNOWLEDGE – A group of Muslim women read from a booklet on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a consultation hearing held at the Basilan State College in Basilan on Friday. (Jansen Romero)
B.B.L. KNOWLEDGE – A group of Muslim women read from a booklet on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a consultation hearing held at the Basilan State College in Basilan on Friday. (Jansen Romero)

MILF Chair Murad Ebrahim, Vice Chair Mohagher Iqbal and Chief of Staff Sammy Gambar, and MNLF faction chair Muslimin Sema were joined by Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman, Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman and some members of the Duterte Cabinet in delivering messages, persuading local voters to approve the proposal that will create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The Muslim luminaries came out in full force to participate in the “Yes for BOL” or Y4B campaign in the plebiscite set on January 21, 2019.

This city of tri-people, Muslim-Christian-Lumad, has ironically served as the “temporary seat” of ARMM for 29 years, even after its resident-voters rejected its inclusion in regional autonomy government in the 1998 and 2001 referendums.

This has compelled Murad, Sema and Hataman, alongside their lieutenants and representatives of the Office of the Presidential Adviser in Peace Process (OPAPP), to sit together for the first time and advocated for a common cause – the BOL ratification in this city.

The presence inside and outside the 32-hectare ARMM here of huge number of supporters from Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur further buoyed the campaign push.

The BOL seeks the creation of BARMM and its absorption of all ARMM component areas – Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan; Cotabato and Isabela cities, six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in six North Cotabato towns.

The campaign speeches of Murad, Sema, Hataman, OPAPP Undersecretary Nabil Tan, and representatives of the Muslim, Christian and Chinese chambers of commerce here focused on many advantages of BARMM over ARMM.

One of major advantages, they said, will be the “automatic allocation” by the national government of an annual subsidy to BARMM. The ARMM governance has been “begging for funds” in Congress and other national entities annually in a fashion that usually came with political haggling, they said.

The proposed BARMM will also have more autonomy in developing natural resources, such as the huge natural gas deposit in Maguindanao’s Liguasan marsh, for the welfare of mostly impoverished Moro communities, they said.

ARMM regional mufti Mohammad Abuhuraira Udasan and Maguindanao’s Midpantao Midtimbang, a known political cum religious preaching personality, said the ratification of BOL will undoubtedly exemplify the unity of Bangsamoro people.

On the other hand, Midtimbang said, Cotabato City’s rejection of autonomy for the third time will be an “insult” to the Bangsamoro community, citing the city’s being the place where pioneer MILF leaders started conceiving the struggle for autonomy that is short of independence.

 
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