In Photo: Officers of Civil Society Organizations in warm and cordial dialogue with District I Election Officer Atty. Stephen Roy Canete (sitting at the center) on November 26. The Petitioners submitted their petition papers to Comelec Staff at the Comelec Office. Zamboanga City on November 27. 2018.

Moro dominated villages in Zambonga City opt to join the envisioned Bangsamoro autonomous region

ZAMBOANGA CITY- November 28. 2018. Unfazed by alleged threat and intimidation by local officials should they push through with the petition for the inclusion of their villages to the Bangsamoro autonomous region, petitioners from Moro dominated barangays appeared at the office of the Commission on Election (Comelec) on Monday to affirm their plea.

The petitioners, coming Barangay Cawit and Arana Blanco comprising Bangsamoro community leaders, peace advocates and Moro Fisher folks sectors in this City,  were able to register their petition before the Comelec Office and underwent identity verification and interview as part of the procedures.

Despite a call for united and undivided Barangays of Zamboanga City from City Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco Salazar, the petitioners asserted to exercise their right to be part of the Bangsamoro region.

“We uphold our rights, dignity and identity and these are our driving factors,” the petitioners underscored.

District I Election Officer IV. Atty. Stephen Roy Canete received the petitions and the petitioner’s identity were verified and they were interviewed by Comelec Officers.

The process was part of Comelec Rules and Regulations governing the conduct of plebiscite in ratifying Republic Act. 11054 known as Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

November 26 to 29 were the grace period given by Zamboanga City Comelec Office for Barangay Cawit petitioners to verify their identity as well as the merit of their petition.

Babuh Rejima, a lead petitioner from Barangay Cawit said they are fully cognizant and confident on their lawful move.

“We, the petitioners, are just exercising and upholding our political and civil rights as guaranteed by 1987 Philippine Constitution. So let people respect and recognize our rights as citizens of this democratic country,” she said.

Kah Rayang Asta, an Arabic teacher in her little Madrasa hut said. “As Bangsamoro Muslim, I came here to attest our petition for the inclusion of our Barangay to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and we are confident that the Bangsamoro Government can address our impoverished condition here in Zamboanga City considering that almost all Muslim dominated Barangays in this City are left behind and some were discriminated in terms of opportunity and social services”

“Our current move is just to exercise our lawful rights and willingness to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region even our chances to win is very slim and not realistic as criticized by many critics due to the hostility and selfishness of some local city officials on Bangsamoro cause. At least we did our share in lawful ways in this legitimate Bangsamoro struggle” Haji Imlah, a Moro community leader said.

“Let it be known and we remind that Zamboanga City does not belong nor inherited by any traditional politicians but owned by all people of Zambaoanga, both Muslims and Christians.  So let the people chart their own destiny, do not dictate and do not monopolize the claim,” the local Information Officer of Bangsamoro said.

The Bangsamoro peace advocates and civil society organizations have assisted the petitioners in their lawful undertakings.