Palace to Bangsamoro people: Support new region, but be vigilant of rights

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2019 11:34 PM

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Duterte hopes the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law will correct "historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people." Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—Malacañang on Saturday urged Bangsamoro residents to support the creation of the new region and to be "vigilant and assertive of their rights."

More than 1.5 million residents from 7 areas in Mindanao voted in favor of the ratification of the Bangsamoro law while 198,750 rejected the measure in the January 21 plebiscite, the final canvass released by the Commission on Elections Friday night showed.

The law, which seeks to boost self-governance in the area, forms the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), composed of the existing 5 provinces of the ARMM and Cotabato City. 

In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte hopes the law's ratification will correct "historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people."

"It is in this light that all the stakeholders must join their hands in unity and harmony to craft an autonomous government that will be responsive to the needs of the Bangsamoro people and other citizens within the jurisdiction of BARMM," Panelo said.

The spokesman, meanwhile, urged those who oppose the measure to "yield to the rule of the majority."

The government looks forward to another orderly plebiscite on February 6, Panelo added.

The plebiscite will cover 6 towns in Lanao Del Norte and 39 villages in North Cotabato. Another 28 barangays from the province were allowed to choose if they want to be part of the new region.

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, meanwhile, called the result of the plebiscite "a pivotal and historic milestone" for Mindanao. 

In a statement, Pimentel said the proper implementation of the law is one of the keys to "unlocking the economic potential" of the region and a "critical step" in achieving peace in Mindanao, which has since been marred by armed conflict. 

He added that the country will benefit from the passage of the law. 

"Regional peace and stability and complementary national measures like the Ease of Doing Business Law will fuel economic development and attract the investments Mindanao needs," said Pimentel, who is also one of the co-authors of BOL in the Senate. 

Pimentel also said that such economic development could further put the ARMM economic progress upward, citing that it was the country’s fifth fastest growing region in 2017.

"The country is benefiting from its seventh consecutive year of sustained economic growth. Spurring development in Mindanao will serve to ensure that this upward trajectory continues," explained the senator. 

The Bangsamoro Organic Law is the enabling legislation of a comprehensive peace agreement signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014. 

A transition committee consisting of 80 people would then lead the new territory until 2022 when the time comes for them to elect a new set of leaders.