CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 29 July) — Moro people of voting age should register with the Commission on Elections to boost the chances of ratification of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during the plebiscite, Engr. Aida Soliwan of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s social welfare committee said.
The law paves the way for the creation of a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) that will replace the 28-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The ARMM is deemed abolished upon the ratification of the Bangsamoro law in a plebiscite in January 2019.
Soliwan issued the call during the MILF’s Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly attended by participants mostly from Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and North Cotabato. The MILF estimated the number at 90,000 but the area where the assembly was held is estimated to accommodate only about 30,000.
“We should see to it that we vote. Know who among your family members have not registered,” she said.
Soliwan also asked the MILF’s Central Committee to conduct a census in the Bangsamoro to know their exact population.
“Some say we number 3 million, others 5 million,” she added.
In the same gathering, Datu Antao Midtimbang, who represented Moro traditional leaders appealed to other armed groups in the Bangsamoro “to silence their guns” and give the new political entity a chance to prove its worth.
Midtimbang was apparently alluding to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which broke away from the MILF over disagreements on the handling of the peace process with government.
The group has launched attacks in Maguindanao and North Cotabato. Military estimates place their strength at 300 to 500 fighters.
Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan, a leader of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party said one-third of the towns in Lanao del Sur will surely vote in favor of the Bangsamoro law.
He said these are the towns where there is heavy presence of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force, the military wing of the MILF.
He added the mayors of these towns have committed to support the new entity.
Ustadz Faiz Sapanton, of the MILF’s Western Mindanao Political Committee said what Congress passed was “not what we want” but we are “forced to accept it as a win-win solution.”
Mohagher Iqbal, chief of the MILF peace implementing panel, conceded that the law is only “85-percent compliant” with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed by government and the MILF in March 2014.
He cited, for instance, that the law doesn’t include provisions on exclusive and concurrent powers, which were contained in the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to Malacanang. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)