BOL’s supports snowballing!

The first to advance and express their unconditional support of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to the MILF, the main signatory of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), were the local executives of Lanao del Sur led by Vice Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong, who also represented his mother-governor of the same province, on August 18. Accompanying him were virtually all the other local government executives including those from the municipalities.

The next to come forward were local executives of Tawi-Tawi led by Governor Rasidin Matba, but they have yet to meet leaders of the MILF led by Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim formally. But a source close to the governor disclosed that it is only a matter of time before such meeting takes place. ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman also reiterated his commitment to support the BOL.

In Maguindanao, where several dynastic clans hold powers interchangeably over the decades, the latest commitment of support for the BOL came from Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu during a huge forum held in Buluan, Maguindanao on September 4.

In his speech, he said: “Political leaders in the province, including me and members of the Mangudadatu clan support the efforts of the MILF and the government to solve the now 50-year Moro rebellion in Mindanao. We are for the BOL.”

Earlier, three leaders or groups in the same province told the MILF that they will go out for the ratification of the BOL namely Datu Antao Midtimbang, leader of the Midtimbang clan, who controls at least three municipalities in Maguindanao; several leaders of the seven municipalities in the same province which have no internal revenue allocations (IRA) due to legal infirmities in their creations by the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) categorically pledged to support the BOL; and Mayor Ibrahim Ibay of the Iranon municipalities told participants in a forum in his town on August 30 that they will go “101%” for the BOL during the plebiscite.

In whispers yet, other clans are reported to be just waiting for the precise moment to express their support. We don’t know of any group in the province who do not see the wisdom of supporting the BOL. Maguindanao was one of the hardest, if not worst, hit by the conflict since 1972. Everybody wants peace in the province.

From all indications, Maguindanao province will go all-out for the yes votes comes January 21 plebiscite. Maguindanao has the largest number of votes among the five provinces in the ARMM.

This early, there is a clear snowballing of support for the ratification of the BOL. It is not farfetched that the bandwagon effect will happen, because the issue of BOL is beyond politics. There are no candidates opposing each other. It is between common good versus selfish interests. The law is about peace, justice, and development. It is about addressing a historical injustices.

What remains to be seen is Sulu province. Former Governor Sakur Tan, who had some initial concerns about the BOL, is silent these days. Recently, he had a meeting with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who “fathered” the BOL, but we are not privy to the result. We do not know whether BOL was part of their talking points. Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, accompanied by Chairman Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF peace implementing panel, met him in Makati City in July this year.