By Teng Lauban Datu
Cotabato City Bureau Chief .
MARAWI City — Residents here are hopeful the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will help bring the needed rehabilitation and healing to their city.
Carrying banners printed with “YES” in bold letters, residents here, mostly students, declared their approval of the BOL inside the Dimaporo Gymnasium right inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) compound during a multi-stakeholder forum to educate the public of the salient points of the law late last week.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had earlier said that the plebiscite will be on Jan. 21, 2019.
Alimah Lacsaman, 22, a third-year AB History student of the Mindanao State University, said the crisis provided so many lessons on why there is a need to pursue peace in the Bangsamoro homeland.
“We endured 12 hours of traffic jams. We were stuck in the road as we hurriedly fled, along with hundreds of thousands of others. To make things worse, my sister was scheduled for her cesarean surgery operations that day,” Lacsaman said as she narrated the harrowing experienced of uncertainty when the fighting broke out in their city between government troopers and a radical group.
“I must admit that before I didn’t have any idea what the law was all about. But when I joined groups which are advocating for its passage, and when I began reading the essence of the law, I became 100 percent supportive of the BOL,” she said.
She said as a history student, she realized that the law grants political power to the Moro people who for centuries have been fighting to regain self-rule over their ancestral lands.
“History is the study of past, to understand the present, and to say something about the future,” she emphasized as she vowed to help campaign for the ratification of the BOL.
According to Dickson Hermoso, the Assistant Secretary for Peace and Security unit of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) and a member of the Government Peace Implementing Panel, normalizing conflict areas in Mindanao are among the priorities of the law.
“I saw the ugliness of the conflict but I also saw the real solution. What we are doing now is the ultimate solution to achieve peace in Mindanao,” he said, referring to the collective efforts to campaign for the ratification of law.
Although the BOL is largely anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro — a peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) — it includes key provisions of all previous Bangsamoro peace agreements signed between the government and the Moro fronts.
“BOL is not only a legal instrument but also a social document that would address the decades-old armed conflict in the Bangsamoro, as well as the recognition of historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro,” Hermoso said.
He said the passage of the BOL is “not the end of our work in attaining peace in Mindanao but it is a trigger for the Normalization Process as agreed by the government and the MILF.”
Normalization, he said, envisions conflict-affected communities to “return to conditions where they can achieve their desired quality of life. (with reports from opapp)