Yes vote to BOL will prevent the spread of violent extremism

An overwhelming yes vote by residents in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will prevent the threat of violent extremism in Mindanao.

Violent extremism emerges every after a peace agreement between the GPH, and the Moro Fronts breaks down. 

The junking by the Supreme Court of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) led to the separation by late Aleem Ombra Kato separated from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and organized the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM).

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim stressed during a dialogue with civil society leaders in Cotabato City last December 19, 2018,” that the emergence of the Abu Sayyaf was due to the breakdown in the implementation of 1996 GPH-Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) peace accord.

The dawn of the infamous ISIS-inspired Maute Group was due to the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in 2016. The so called Marawi City siege destroyed the Islamic City of Marawi and forced hundreds of thousands of resident to flee.

These acts of extremists groups happened out of frustrations in the Mindanao peace process, hence the urgency of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is vital to prevent the spread of violent extremism in Mindanao.

Sad to note that two petitions to declare the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) unconstitutional were filed in the Supreme Court by Sulu Governor Sakur Tan II, and the Philconsa. 

The higher court is yet to come out with a decision. 

Tan in his petition asked the court that the votes of Sulu should be recognized as separate from the majority vote of ARMM, meaning that if the majority of votes from Sulu say no to BOL, then the province should not be part of the Bangsamoro.

He also alleged in his petition that the ARMM cannot be abolished without first amending the 1987 Constitution. 

Tan petition said that “Since the ARMM is created by the Constitution, Congress, by itself, has absolutely no authority to abolish ARMM. Only through an amendment of the Constitution that ARMM can be abolished. 

For his part, Chairman Al Haj Murad emphasized the various studies made on the BOL, and the consultations conducted with some framers of the 1987 Constitution, and legal luminaries during the drafting of the law.

 “The Office of the President examined carefully the provisions of the BOL,” Al Haj Murad said.

“The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that crafted the BOL which has its own legal team ensured that there are no unconstitutional provisions of the proposed law. This is so because, “we fear the possibility that the BOL will be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court,” Al Haj Murad also said in his message. 

“The MILF assures that even if the BOL is struck down by the higher court, the peace agreement will stay. They can claim that the government should implement it. This political agreement stands and the MILF still can hold on to this,” he stressed. 

“I see the need to keep an eye on the groups who will take advantage of the failure of the peace process,” Al Haj Murad warns.

A victory of yes vote come plebiscite day will pave the way for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Government to realize finally the aspiration for Moro Right to Self-determination.

Otherwise, imagine, what challenges to peace our beloved Mindanao will face again?

The Philippine government, the Moro Fronts (MNLF and MILF), and civil society organizations, business organizations, and church groups all stand to gain or lose on the fate of the BOL on January 21st.