By Teng L. Datu
Cotabato City Bureau Chief .
AMAS, Kidapawan City — “Yes to BOL.”
This was the resounding call of thousands of delegates who took part in the “Cotabato Yes to Bangsamoro Organic Law” Assembly held at the provincial gymnasium here over the weekend.
Former rebel fighters, public servants, representatives of civil society, peace advocates, and residents of North Cotabato sat side by side as they declared their unequivocal support for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
“The BOL is not only for the Moro people but for all. The law is for the tri-people of Mindanao,” said Muslimin Sema, chairman of the Bangsamoro People National Congress.
Sema, who is also a former mayor of Cotabato City, said the BOL was crafted through the collaborative effort of Muslims, Christians, and indigenous peoples.
“This is now a chance to leave the conflict behind. We must all hold on together,” he said.
For his part, Carmen Mayor Roger Taliño said the BOL will be the key to fostering peace and harmony among the people.
“We want to achieve sustainable peace[resulting in]
more progressive communities,” he said.
Taliño said there is no reason for him to “hold back” barangays in the municipality that want to be part of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).
He said he wants to give the Moro people the chance to participate in the “full implementation of the BOL.”
According to Pigcawayan Mayor Eliseo Garcesa Jr., the participation of residents from across the province is a concrete manifestation of their full support for the landmark measure.
“The whole province of Cotabato is here. The size of the crowd here is as big as our love for peace,” Garcesa said.
“We need to unite. We need to support peace. We need to support the BOL,” he added.
At the same event, Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said the BOL will ensure inclusiveness and equality among the tri-people of the region.
“If not, there will be distrust among the people,” Taliño warned, recalling the armed conflict she witnessed as a child growing up in the province.
“I don’t want my children to experience what I went through,” she said.
Taliño said the people should be able to vote freely in the coming plebiscite.
“This (BOL) will give way to long-lasting peace in Cotabato. Mabuhay ang Bangsamoro Organic Law,” Taliño said as she declared her full support for the ratification of the BOL.
For Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Commissioner Abdulrauf Macacua, the BOL is “a document of peace and development.”
Macacua said the law contains everything that is needed to ensure sustainable economic development in the region.
The BOL, he added, is an instrument of unity because it recognizes the identity of Muslims, Christians, and the Lumad.
“We need peace. Please vote for BOL,” he said.
In his message, Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil Tan said the BOL recognizes all signed peace agreements between the Philippine Government and the various Moro fronts.