85 pct of Cotabato City in favor of Bangsamoro, MILF chair, solon say

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2019 11:48 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2019 12:20 PM

MANILA - There is "overwhelming support" for the Bangsamoro Organic Law in Cotabato City, a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader and a Maguindanao lawmaker said Thursday, 4 days before the first plebiscite that would determine the scope and territory of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

At least "85 percent" of Cotabato City residents are in favor of joining the Bangsamoro, Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema told ANC's Early Edition, citing a survey conducted by her office.

"This is really different. Hindi pa ito nangyari in the past," Sema said, belying claims of Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani that residents of Cotabato will likely vote against its inclusion in the Bangsamoro after a deadly New Year's Eve blast killed at least 2 people and injured several others.

Cotabato City rejected 2 plebiscites in the past and opted not to be a part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) because 2 Moro factions - the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front - were not supportive of previous pacts with the government, Sema said.

"Those 2 plebiscites were rejected by the MNLF that is why they have not participated in those plebiscites, but this RA 1105 is different because no less than the Chairman of the MILF Al Haj Murad and the MNLF under the leadership of Yusuj Jikiri are accepting this," she said.

"This is the first time that a law offered by no less than the President, is fully accepted by the 2 fronts and the masses," she said, dismissing Guiani's allegations as "black propaganda" against the MILF.

Sema is running against Guiani in Cotabato City's mayoralty race in May 2019.

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MILF chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim said the proponents of the Bangsamoro Organic Law are facing little to no challenge in convincing people to vote in favor of the BOL.

"Everywhere we go, the support of the people is overwhelming. Very enthusiastic sila and we see na talagang sumusuporta 'yung mga tao sa BOL," he said.

"The challenge we are facing is in the provincial level of Lanao del Norte. Only the provincial officers, particularly the governor is the one opposing," he said.

The MILF leader said they would "respect" the will of the people should majority vote against the BOL.