MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte this coming Friday is set to make a final push to call on residents to vote for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that shall create a new autonomous region in the restive south.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed that Duterte will speak before a peace assembly in Cotabato City this Friday, Jan. 18, three days before the Jan. 21 plebiscite.
Panelo stressed the BOL will “solve the age-old problem of Muslim rebellion”, and President Duterte’s voice would be powerful in influencing the people to support the law that will create a new Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.
“The President’s voice is a powerful influencing voice,” he said in a Palace press briefing.
“If despite the support and the campaign, the overwhelming or a simply majority says they don’t like it, the President cannot do anything but to comply with the sovereign voice of the people in Mindanao.”
There are some 2.8 million registered voters in the region included in the plebiscite.
The Commission on Elections expects 75 percent voter participation in the plebiscite, which will take place on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6.
The BOL, one of the requirements under a 2014 peace agreement between the government and the MILF, seeks to install a Bangsamoro political entity in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It is envisioned to grant wider self-rule to predominantly Muslim provinces and cities.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Murad Ebrahim said extremist groups in Mindanao might take advantage of the situation if the BOL does not get ratified.