The people have spoken: the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) has been ratified. A great victory for peace in Mindanao!
The road to just and lasting peace in Mindanao has been long and difficult: blood had been shed, lives had been lost, and families had been torn apart. But the painstaking efforts of past and present leaders and stakeholders – notably the signing during the PNoy administration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal with the MILF – are finally bearing fruit.
With the people accepting and approving the BOL, Muslims can now assert their right to self-determination and right to development while peacefully co-existing with Christians, Lumads and other identities in the southern part of the country in the context of national unity and social justice.
While we all fervently wish and intend to work towards the full implementation of the BOL, we know that its success will naturally depend on many factors, such as political will, continued trust among parties, and support from all sectors. But more importantly, people need to see that age-old problems – poverty, social exclusion and political inequalities – that have fueled this conflict in the first place are being truly addressed.
Otherwise, Mindanao, despite the optimism ushered in by the BOL, will remain a rich hunting ground for terrorists, greedy politicians, warlords and war profiteers. The recent bombings of a cathedral in Jolo and the grenade attack in a mosque in Zamboanga are proof that enemies of peace and development in Mindanao would stop at nothing to sabotage the whole process.
Kaya po kailangan nating patuloy na mag-unawaan, maging mapagbantay at magtulungan upang magapi ang mga pwersang mas pinapaboran ang kaguluhan at karahasan dahil nakikinabang sila rito.
Hindi rin po makakamit ng BOL ang layunin nito kung patuloy nating hahayaan ang estilo ng pamumuno ni Duterte na nakabatay sa pananakot at nag-eengganyo ng karahasan bilang tugon sa mga problema ng lipunan tulad ng iligal na droga.
We can no longer afford to stop this momentum for Mindanao and for our Bangsamoro brethren. The victory of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front from almost five years ago should not be wasted. The rollout of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as the governance entity of BOL needs our utmost vigilance and cooperation for it to succeed.
Kapayapaan at pag-unlad sa Bangsamoro! Ngayon na!
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