By Francis Wakefield
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr., Friday said the inclusion of 63 barangays of North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was a key milestone in the peace process in Mimdanao.
Galvez made the remark after the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) officially proclaimed on Thursday the inclusion of 63 North Cotabato barangays in the new BARMM.
“This development is another milestone in the Mindanao peace process as we progress in the implementations of the peace agreements between the government and the Moro fronts,” Galvez said.
“The conduct of the plebiscite in North Cotabato is one that should be emulated across the country. The entire community of the province showed us how to assert our rights peacefully,” he added.
Galvez said teachers, who acted as Board of Election Inspectors, were quoted as saying in several news reports that even though it was not compulsory for them to serve in the plebiscite, they still volunteered for the job because they all wanted to be part of such a historic exercise.
He said North Cotabato was a highly diverse province, and yet its residents showed how people in a multicultural community can coexist harmoniously and act in unison.
“This gesture alone is an indication that collective effort is the key to achieve our quest for lasting peace in Mindanao,” Galvez said.
“I congratulate the local leaders of North Cotabato province, led by its active and passionate Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, for their dedication to campaign for a peaceful and orderly conduct of the plebiscite in the area.”
“To our brothers and sisters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front, thank you for your untiring efforts to educate the people about the Bangsamoro Organic Law and diplomatically convince them to join in the new Bangsamoro autonomous region,” he said.
Galvez, at the same time, also expressed his gratitude to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, COMELEC and peace partners in the civil society, for a successful BOL plebiscite.
“And most of all to President Rodrigo Duterte, the architect of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, who rallied the entire country to pass and ratify a law that will spell peace in Mindanao,” Galvez said.
“Mr. President, your assertion and commitment have made it possible for the Mindanao peace process to take a giant leap,” Galvez added.
“I am hopeful that the transition process to the new Bangsamoro autonomous region will be smooth as we sustain the unwavering support that every stakeholder displayed during the campaign and the conduct of the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” he added.