By Vanne Terrazola
The signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) marks the beginning of yet another “difficult” task to ensure its implementation will not go in vain, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said.
Zubiri said this on Friday as he thanked President Duterte for signing into law the new Bangsamoro act.
“We thank President Duterte for signing the BOL as he promised. He closely followed our work. Now, the more difficult part begins,” he said in statement.
Zubiri, sponsor of the BOL, appealed to stakeholders, including his fellow lawmakers, to assure that measures are undertaken to prepare for the holding of the plebiscite for the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region that would replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“We need a plebiscite to implement the law. Majority should approve of this, otherwise the ARMM areas shall continue to be administered under the ARMM law,” he added
Zubiri said he will follow through the implementation of the provisions of the BOL on the plebiscite and the Commission on Elections’ preparation for next year’s midterm elections.
The senator said he will discuss with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) the funding for the BOL. The DBM earlier said it was not included in the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.
“I’m sure the President will see to it that all government agencies concerned will be up to their respective tasks and that budget, personnel and other resources needed will be sufficient,” Zubiri said.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao shall be established after the BOL is ratified through a plebiscite.
The plebiscite shall be conducted not earlier than 90 days and not later than 150 days after the effectivity of the organic law.
The government is looking at allocating P100 billion for the BOL.
Zubiri expressed hope that that BOL will address the gaps of Republic Act 9054, which created the ARMM. He said the law would be a legacy of the Duterte administration.
“From experience, we had all learned that the old ARMM law has become deficient as a framework for peace and economic growth for the region. The old setup of the ARMM did not promote the peace and development that it had promised to do by lacking the political reform measures that are sorely needed to achieve those gains,” Zubiri said.
“From transparency and accountability, to political party system of governance to fiscal autonomy and strengthened self-governance, the BOL will be able to achieve what ARMM failed to do. Which is to equally serve every Filipino living in the Bangsamoro area,” he added.
Zubiri said the signing of the law “also meant the national government is finally serious about achieving peace and order in Mindanao.”
“Police, defense and security matters really have to be ironed out between government forces, MILF, MNLF and other armed rebels. We made airtight provisions in that aspect. Otherwise, our development projects for the Bangsamoro cannot be implemented,” he stressed.