By Ali Macabalang
BULUAN, Maguindanao – Supporters of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) ratification took turns here on Tuesday in praising reports that President Rodrigo Duterte has declared January 21, the day of the plebiscite, as non-working special holiday; as well as his scheduled visit to Cotabato City on Friday to push for “yes” votes in the electoral process.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Hadji Murad Ebrahim interrupted their campaign speeches at their Tuesday’s grand here to tell over 15,000 people that Duterte has declared January 21 as special non-working holiday to provide voters ample time in deciding the fate of Republic Act (RA) 11054.
“I just received official information that our beloved President issued Proclamation 464 declaring Monday, January 21 as holiday,” Mangudadatu announced that drew resounding chants of “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) among the audience.
The proclamation, signed for the President by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, declared the holiday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela (in Basilan) where the January 21 plebiscite will be conducted.
Government workers in the ARMM agencies and Cotabato City present at the rally here said the holidays relieved them of earlier worries on how they could get to polling centers on a work day.
Ebrahim and other key officials of the MILF, and the Office of the President Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) were led at Tuesday’s rally by Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso. He said the presence of President Duterte in Cotabato City on January 18 will be a “big boost” to the campaign for BOL ratification.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Tuesday that the Chief Executive will lead the campaign on Friday, January 18, at the ARMM compound in Cotabato City
“The President supports BOL. That’s what he said in the Cabinet. He said he will campaign for it,” Panelo said in his announcement.