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MILF lauds Duterte for commitment to campaign for BOL ratification

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By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) lauded, Wednesday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the assurance he gave that he would personally campaign for the ratification of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), describing the process as its “last battle” for self-determination in the south.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks with Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Ghazali Jaafaron the sidelines of the turnover ceremony of the newly proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on July 17, 2017. (KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks with Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Ghazali Jaafar on the sidelines of the turnover ceremony of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on July 17, 2017. (KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“This inspires us more to reciprocate his administration’s commitment for a peaceful end in the so-called Mindanao conflict,” MILF Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar told The Manila Bulletin.

The plebiscite has been set on January 2019.

In his meeting with the Filipino community in Jordan on Sept. 7, the President was quoted as assuring: “I will campaign for ‘yes’ vote (in the referendum).”

It was the first time since his signing of RA 11054 into law on July 27 that the Chief Executive categorically declared he would lead campaign for “yes” vote. In previous pronouncements, he merely cited the essence of the new law in the charting of lasting peace in Mindanao.

The MILF leadership was elated by Duterte’s assurance because some elected officials in the proposed BARMM territory had earlier aired concern that the President might adopt a “hands off” stance in the campaign for BOL ratification.

Jaafar, who is also chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that crafted the original draft of the new law, likewise cited the Commission on Election (Comelec) for providing some leeway in the massive registration of new voters, who are eager to participate in the referendum and in subsequent elections in BARMM areas.

“We earlier asked Comelec to accommodate new registrants as much as possible. We are glad that Comelec heeded our appeal,” Jaafar said, citing the turnout of thousands of mostly MILF members and sympathizers at the opening of three-day special list-up on September 11.

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