In photo- MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim delivering his message during a Forum on BOL at the North Cotabato Provincial Capitol, Amas, Kidapawan City on January 12,

North Cotabato says ‘Yes’ to BOL

KIDAPAWAN CITY – The leadership of the province of North Cotabato has declared its full support to the ratification of the Republic Act No. 11054 or Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

In the forum attended by national and local officials as well as leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) held at the gymnasium of the North Cotabato Provincial Capitol in Amas, Kidapawan City, Saturday, Provincial Governor Emmylou ‘Lala’ Tali?o-Mendoza, said: “Yes to Bangsamoro Organic Law because it is high time we put a stop to the hardship [being experienced] by the children, the women and the elderly due to conflict.”

Mendoza added, “The BOL will pave the way to a genuine peace in North Cotabato.”

Mayor Rogelio ‘Roger’ Tali?o of the municipality of Carmen and president of the North Cotabato Provincial Mayor’s League, said:

“My stand is final, ‘Yes’ to BOL.”

Mayor Tali?o gave his assurance that he will not hold those barangays in the municipality of Carmen that filed petitions for voluntary inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

There are seven barangays in Carmen that filed petitions with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) but only five so far have been approved by the Comelec.

Other municipal mayors present also expressed their respective support to the BOL. They were Mayor Herlo Guzman Jr. of Kabacan, Mayor Sumulong Sultan of Pikit, Mayor Vicente Sorupia Jr. of Aleosan and Mayor Eliseo Garcesa Jr. of Pigkawayan.

Undersecretary Dickson Hermoso of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) recounted his experiences as a former military officer and concluded by saying “tama na ang 50 years na kaguluhan” (enough with the 50 years of conflict).

OPAPP Assistant Secretary Nabil Tan told the audience that so far 28 petitioning barangays in North have already been approved by the Comelec.

Tan said in the BOL, the powers of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and the National Government are clearly delineated.

He explained the provision of the BOL on the block grant which will be automatically appropriated annually by the National Government to the Bangsamoro Government.

The BOL provides, among others, that the National Government shall provide an annual block grant which shall be the share of the Bangsamoro Government in the national internal revenue tax collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and collections of the Bureau of Customs.

The amount of the block grant shall be equivalent to five percent of the net national internal revenue tax collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the net collection of the Bureau of Customs from the third fiscal year immediately preceding the current fiscal year.

According to Tan, the National Government shall also provide a special development fund to the Bangsamoro Government for the rebuilding,

rehabilitation and development of its conflict-affected communities.

The amount equivalent to fifty billion pesos at five billion pesos per year, for a period of ten years from the ratification of the Organic Law, shall be allocated for this purpose.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. of the OPAPP, said with the ratification of the BOL, “this will be the end of all conflicts in Mindanao” even as he referred to the BOL as “an antidote to violent extremism and terrorism.”

Muslimen Sema, the chairman of the National People’s Congress of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), also campaigned for the ratification of the BOL.

Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) expressed his confidence that with the support of the North Cotabato provincial government, the contiguous areas in the province that opted for inclusion will be included in the Bangsamoro Government.

Ebrahim said the MNLF, was organized in 1972 as a reaction of the Bangsamoro to what they perceived then as a genocidal campaign against them by the Philippine government.

“We have to restore our relationships. We are Bangsamoro but we are also Filipinos,” Ebrahim said.

North Cotabato Provincial Board Member Mohamad Kelie Antao said the officials of the whole province are united in pushing the ratification of the BOL.

Antao acted as the lead-petitioner for all the contiguous barangays that filed petitions for inclusion with the Comelec.

The plebiscite will be conducted in January 21 for the areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) including the cities of Cotabato and Isabela while for the province of Lanao del Norte, except Iligan City, and the concerned municipalities in North Cotabato, the plebiscite will be conducted in February 6.