A MAJOR campaign rally for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will be launched today, Dec. 10, in Cotabato City, as the official campaign period started last Friday, according to the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. “I am confident that despite the challenges, our campaign for the BOL and for peace will have a positive impact not only in the Bangsamoro, but the rest of the country,” Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal said during a media forum on the BOL on Dec. 6. In the same forum, the Commission on Elections also announced that the plebiscite will now be held in two dates: Jan. 21 within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City, and Isabela City; and Feb. 6 for Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato, including towns and barangays with approved petitions to join the Bangsamoro ARMM (BARMM). Recently-resigned Presidential peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza attended the forum, where he said, “I’ll be supporting my peace partners and the advocacy even in my personal capacity.”
A survey conducted in Oct. and Nov 2018 by peace-building non-government organization International Alert (IA) Philippines indicates that “a significant majority of the youth” in the BARMM “will vote YES to the ratification” of the BOL. “This is significant considering that the youth comprise 57% of the registered voters in the ARMM,” said IA Country Manager Nikki de la Rosa said in a statement when the survey results were released on Dec. 6. However, youth were “either not in favor or unsure of the BOL” within the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, which are all part of the ARMM, and the towns of Midsayap, Carmen, and Pigkawayan in North Cotabato. “Our data suggests that those advocating for the BOL may consider putting more effort into explaining to young people how the law will weaken armed groups affiliated with ISIS, create jobs in government, encourage more investments in the Bangsamoro, and prove that it is not Moro-centric, but benefits non-Muslims, including indigenous peoples, as well,” Ms. de la Rosa said. IA will conduct a repeat survey in the first week of Jan. — Marifi S. Jara