Register and ratify BOL

It is final, there will be a special registrations on September 11, 12, and 13 in several places in the proposed Bangsamoro territory. These are intended for members of the MILF who have not registered or failed to vote during previous elections due to the “hands-off” policy on elections pursued by the MILF.

But this time, after the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), members of the MILF are duty bound to register and vote for yes, which is a requirement for the ratification of the BOL. Without this ratification, the BOL will not become a full law that is final and executory. Worse, non-ratification will mean the uncertainty that prevailed before in conflict affected areas will return.

According to information from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Manila, special registration sites are located in Darapanan, the main administration headquarters of the MILF, in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, in Butig, Lanao Del Sur, Isabela in Basilan, Midsayap in North Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Midsayap in North Cotabato, and in Lanao Del Norte.

This special registration is part of the agreement of the government and MILF, contained in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). It is also provided for in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that such special registration for members of the MILF has to be undertaken.

Interestingly, this early the response of the people is overwhelmingly positive for ratification of the BOL. Mock plebiscites were conducted during gatherings of people in many places in Mindanao. Results were unanimous and universal in favour of the yes votes. In fact, local government executives of Lanao Del Sur had already expressed their commitment to support the BOL. Similarly, local government executives of Tawi-Tawi and Basilan are reported to have the same intensity of commitments. Maguindanao, the bailiwick of the MILF, will resoundingly vote yes, early report indicated. Only in Sulu that signs for yes are still hazy, although there is an emerging critical mass of voters who will campaign and vote yes comes plebiscite day in January next year.

As repeatedly asserted, the BOL is not a political issue. It is not about pitting one candidate against another. It is about peace, justice, and solving the Moro Question once and for all. It is about the interests of the Bangsamoro, not the selfish interest of anyone. The BOL is a hard-earned piece of legislation, years after years of bloody armed confrontations and hard, harsh, and protracted negotiations that cost the lives of 150,000 soldiers, MNLF, MILF, and civilians.

God willing! The BOL will bring forth good tidings to our people after they suffered from almost 50 years of brutal conflict. If this golden and rare opportunity is missed, we don’t know when will this presents itself again. Maybe after another century, or maybe no more, or maybe the curse of war will return to the land. God forbid!

We hope no one will stand on the way that impedes its ratification. We are optimistic that those leaders who initially showed disinterest in BOL will ultimately change their minds for the better. After all, what can they get in opposing the BOL? Nothing, except curses of people.