By Francis Wakefield
MARAWI CITY – Thousands of Maranaws rallied behind the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) through the upcoming plebiscite.
Nearly six thousand people representing various groups and sectors gathered at the Dimaporo Gym at the Mindanao State University (MSU) on Wednesday for a Peace Assembly to express their support for the landmark legislation.
In his remarks, MSU President Dr. Habib Macaayong reiterated the university’s support for the new Bangsamoro Government.
“The Mindanao State University opens wide its road to you. Umasa kayo na sa pagtungo sa bagong umaga, kasama ninyo kami. Mabuhay ang Bangsamoro Organic Law [Rest assured that we will be with you in pushing for BOL. Long live the Bangsamoro Organic Law],” Macaayong said.
Urging the people to participate in the plebiscite on January 21, 2019, Arim Jamal Urandig, representative of the Ulama sector, said peace and prosperity will follow once the BOL is ratified.
“Let us go out and vote. Let peace happen by voting ‘Yes’ to BOL. Your vote can help attain the aspirations of our people,” Urandig said.
The same sentiment was shared by Fr. Ramon Torres, Vicar General of the Prelature of St. Mary in Marawi City.
“Peace is our common endeavor. And peace is possible with the ratification of the BOL. It provides us the avenue for the dialogue of life and faith,” he said.
Sultan Bangcola Adtha, Chairman of the Federation of 16 Royal Sultanate of Lanao, said the sultanates stand as one in support of the landmark measure.
“Today, the sultanates in Bangsamoro area are always supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte. Now that the BOL is being approved and we are at the deciding point of ratifying the law, majority of the Bangsamoro region will vote ‘Yes,’” he said.
Coalition of Moro Youth president Atty. Shiddick Abantas reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to support the new Bangsamoro Government even after the plebiscite.
“We will campaign and vote ‘Yes’ in the January 21 plebiscite. We will render our unending and tireless support to the Bangsamoro Government. Kami po ang magmamana sa Bangsamoro Government; alam.po namin na kung magiging payapa ang Bangsamoro, kami pong youth ang makikinabang dito,” Abantas said.
Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, member of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel, called on the people to campaign for the legislative measure to “change the minds” of the opposition.
“We are here to appeal to you, not only to vote for ‘Yes’ but to go out and campaign actively to convince the undecided and those who are decided to vote ‘No’ to change their minds and vote for ‘Yes’ instead. Why do we have to do that? Because BOL is the implementation of the agreements between the government and the Moro groups,” Lingga said.
“Nagkakaisa ang MILF at MNLF para sa BOL. We should be united the same way our ancestors used to be,” Sani said.
For his part, OPAPP Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso appealed to the people to participate in the plebiscite and protect the integrity of the democratic process.
“Bantayan natin ang ating boto. Ito ay para sa kinabukasan ng susunod na henerasyon. Kaya kami sa OPAPP ay buong pusong umaapela sa inyo na sa January 21 at February 6 ay lumabas tayo at bumoto ng Yes [Let us guard our vote.s This will be for the future of the next generation. We in OPAPP are wholeheartedly appealing to all of you that on January 21 and February 6 you go out and.vote Yes],” Hermoso said.
According to the rules and procedures set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), registered voters must write down “Yes” or “No” in Filipino, English or in their corresponding local language for every item or question. Otherwise, votes written in any other form such as through check or cross marks will be considered void and will not be included in the vote count.