Public interest vs ‘my interest’

On December 7, the campaign for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will officially start in the proposed territory for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR), and we expect high gear campaigns especially those supporting the “yes” votes.

The stakes are emotionally-charged and it is about people and their future. Similarly, those obsessed with the no-t0-BOL stance will dig deep into their turfs and will resort to all weird and dirty tricks to ensure the victory of the no votes. In fact, one candidate for mayor has already started to shell out five hundred thousand pesos to every barangay captain, as partial payment for the defeat of the BOL in their localities. The full amount will be made after the no votes are delivered during the plebiscite.

Unlike other public campaigns to win public support or endorsement, especially in elections of government officials, the issues in the forthcoming plebiscite on January 21, 2019 are rigidly demarcated: The BOL is clearly for the promotion of the public interest, while those politicians opposing it (never mind conscience-guided voters; it is their right to decide yes or no) are all for reasons of “my interests”.

The BOL is a hard-earned piece of legislation. It was not handed to the Bangsamoro people (and other inhabitants of BAR) in silver platter. We paid for it dearly, including the blood of our martyrs and the destruction of our beloved homeland. Include the 17 years of hard, harsh, and protracted negotiations, as well as the long, tedious, and difficult legislative process in Congress, one sees the impossible made possible (by the will of God through President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Congress, MILF, MNLF, and all friends and supporters of the BOL).  

So far, only a handful of politicians are openly against the ratification of the BOL. In fact, if the plebiscite is going to be held today, only Sulu, Cotabato City, Isabela City, the six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and the 39 barangays in North Cotabato posed serious challenges. The rest are less problematic, because the leaders there including the politicians are one in looking at the BOL as a menu for the betterment of the people.

However, we do not want to identify the problematic politicians, because our sincere dialogues with them are still on-going. Maybe we can only mention one name, Sulu Governor Sakur “Totoh” Tan, because he has openly shown his distaste for the BOL by filing a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of many provisions of the BOL. (We do know whether his father and mentor, former Governor Sakur Tan Sr., is supporting or encouraging him to file the petition).

Finally, we want to pose this question: If the BOL gets ratified including the problematic areas, would the politicians there opposing the BOL shun running for any positions in the Bangsamoro parliament?

We must assume that if they have that self-respect, integrity, or delicadeza, they wouldn’t run for any position.