MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 19 January) — A “bright new leaf awaits” Mindanao if RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be ratified during the plebiscite on January 21 and February 6, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Saturday.
Urging voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela to come out and vote on Monday, Galvez stressed a “yes” vote “will help unleash the full economic potential of the region and bring peace and development to the area.
”The proposed law addresses many of the grievances underpinning the decades-long conflict in the Muslim region in the Southern (Philippines), and provides a solid foundation for achieving lasting peace and increased prosperity in the region,” he said in a statement.
Galvez said the law was crafted not only for the Moro people but for all the residents of the proposed region, that it will benefit everyone in the proposed core territory, regardless of tribe, religion, or personal beliefs.
Once it is ratified, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will replace the 28-year-old ARMM.
The law is anchored on the final peace agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014 after four decades of conflict that claimed over 120,000 lives, including civilians.
The plebiscite on January 21 will be held in the ARMM’s Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan; and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, both of which voted against inclusion in the supposed “expanded” ARMM in 2001.
The Commission on Elections also set February 6 for voters in Lanao del Norte (except Iligan City), and seven towns in North Cotabato.
According to Galvez, the plebiscite for the ratification RA 11054 is a momentous event for the Moro as well as non-Moro people residing in the proposed territory.
“This political exercise is an opportunity for them to assert their identity and choose their own destiny. By casting their vote, they are re-defining the Moro narrative as well as charting the future of Mindanao,” he said.
Galvez said a yes vote will bring a “meaningful and genuine autonomy” for the country’s Muslim minority in the south.
It is a law that seeks to give back to the Bangsamoro people what they rightfully deserve and address historical injustices committed against them, he said.
Galvez urged stakeholders to do their share in ensuring an orderly and peaceful plebiscite.
He also appealed to local leaders to refrain from issuing statements that would instill fear and animosity among the people. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)