By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – Former Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (PAPP) secretary Jesus Dureza expressed confidence that the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) will become a reality, saying that the fruits of the 50-year Moro struggle, that was marked by loss of lives, human sufferings, and agony, will soon “ripen for everyone to harvest.”
“I am not a Moro but I am a Bangsamoro. I grew up from childhood and lived in the Moro homeland of Mindanao. I know the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) will be a reality. No doubt about it,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Dureza, who resigned as PAPP secretary in November 2018 following the corruption controversies involving some of his executives, said the ratification of the BOL would not deliver “magical instant results” but nevertheless called on the people to help nurture, tend, and nourish it one step at a time until it becomes sustainable.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has scheduled two separate dates for the plebiscite of OLBARMM. The January 21 will be for the voters in the six provinces and two cities in the ARMM as well as Cotabato City and Isabela City in Basilan while and February 6 for the province of Lanao del Norte, except Iligan City; the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit, and Pigkawayan in the province of North Cotabato; and all other areas that asked for inclusion in the future BARMM.
Dureza said he was also optimistic that Cotabato City and Isabela City of Basilan, situated at the heart of the ARMM but which are still not part of core territory, will decide to join the future Bangsamoro government that will replace the present ARMM when it gets ratified.
He urged the people to give the OLBARMM the last chance to work as the best step to take despite the trauma suffered and the lingering doubts of the people.
He also said that the social healing and acceptance are starting points for cohesion.
“It may take time but now is the best time to start. There are still untold benefits to the area that need to be shown. A rejection may worsen the situation with a disabling environment. No one can survive as an island apart from the rest,” he said.
Despite the perceived objection of the province of Sulu to OLBARMM for the moment, Dureza said it should not be a cause for concern, as he believed the people of the province will see the light and give the law a chance to prevent engendering animosity, enmity and inevitably distance and dissatisfaction stemming from a “no vote.”
“We understand why there are discordant voices and they are not without reason. But since there is no way to ‘opt out’ of the original ARMM inspite of the ‘No’ in Sulu province, the result will be of no moment. Sulu will be part of the new BARMM, notwithstanding,” he said.
“If things do not happen as expected, it’s not the end of the world. We still have President Duterte whose remaining years in office will enable him to surely align matters, in his own bold — at times, unconventional ways. Truth to tell, were it not for him, this rare chance would not have come to pass,” he added.
He said the people should trust Duterte as the OLBARMM is “his baby” and that he will not allow this to be a wasted legacy.
If all else fails, Dureza said the OLBARMM can still be amended or changed to suit the prevailing situations and climes.