On January 21, residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the cities of Isabela in Basilan and Cotabato will decide whether or not to join the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR).
Less than a month later, on February 6, residents of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato will also decide whether to join or not in the new Bangsamoro entity.
As of press time, Isabela de Basilan, Sulu, and Lanao del Norte showed significant opposition to the BOL while in Lanao del Sur, considered an MILF stronghold, a nominal opposition is also slowly mounting.
As the opposition to the BOL is growing, various wings and allies of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are strengthening the “Yes” campaign sorties.
In the Ranao Region (Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur), the pro-BOL campaign would culminate in simultaneous rallies on January 17 to be held in the municipalities of Kapatagan, Maigo and Balo-I, all in Lanao del Norte province.
Many similar rallies were already held to gain support to the BOL and ensure its ratification. But has the BOL been well understood by the people who will ratify it and who are supposed to benefit from it?
Observers believed if the opposition to the BOL is slowly gaining followers, it is because the pro-BOL was not able to let the people understand thoroughly the benefits of the new law.
What they are doing is just an appeal to the people to vote “Yes”, said Monera Sarip, a mother of 2.
Atty. Mehol Sadain, a brilliant Muslim legal luminary asked: “Does everybody really know what is in the BOL and the implications of the negotiation process in its implementation if it is ratified?”
He said, “Beyond the Q & A primers, the public consultations that are just good for sound bites, the various publications, and now the pro and anti-free-for-all discourse in the social media, there has been no serious, comprehensive and impartial presentation of all the issues of autonomy and self-determination, no surfacing of the nuances of the negotiations and legislative deliberations.
“Hence, if even the Muslim intellectuals see gray areas on certain aspects of the BOL, how dark do you think do all of these become in the minds of the majority common Muslims — the ones who are supposed to be the primary beneficiaries of regional autonomy?”
Ranao federalist movement leader Bayan G. Balt said it is the duty of BOL advocates to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the BOL.
The “ins” and “outs” of the BOL should be explained to the public to understand the law that will govern them the rest of their life, lawyer Balt added.
RANAO STAR PHILIPPINES