Lanao Sur sees low plebiscite turnout

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte together with some members of his cabinet, officials from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), some local officials, and other guests flash the “thumbs-up” sign during the Peace Assembly for the Ratification of Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), held at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City on January 18, 2019. MALACANANG PHOTO

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur: Local leaders here are optimistic about the conduct of a peaceful plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on Monday, but express doubt over the turnout of voters.

Haroun Alrashid Lucman Jr., vice governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), told The Manila Times that he saw the plebiscite to be peaceful but was not sure as to the turnout of voters.

“With the presence of the security forces and since it is not like those contested local elections where passion and rivalry among candidates are high, the plebiscite would be relatively peaceful,” he said.

He, however, said the actual voter turnout might be lower than that in regular elections.

“But, since there are many local government units within ARMM which have committed to ensure a high turnout for the ‘Yes’ vote, they might find ways to let as many voters as possible go out and vote,” Lucman added.

Monday’s plebiscite will have at least 62 areas in the ARMM to vote for the adoption of the BOL or Republic Act 111054, while voters in Isabela in Basilan and Cotabato City will decide if they are willing to have their areas included in the Bangsamoro Autonomous region.

Duterte visit

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to Cotabato City on Friday would boost the BOL Yes votes, especially in the city where the mayor had expressed strong opposition to its inclusion.

Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chairman, expressed his gratitude to Duterte saying, “You gave as the key to peace and progress.”

He added that the MILF had already prepared its security forces to ensure the safety of the voters during the plebiscite.

Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi had openly expressed her opposition to the inclusion of Cotabato City to the political entity, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that would replace the present ARMM.

But Murad appealed to those who were not in favor of the BOL to give the proposed measure a chance and vote Yes.

Duterte visited the ARMM to support the BOL ratification. Most likely that would be his last visit to the seat of regional government located in this city, which had been its central office for 29 years.

In his speech during the peace assembly, the President said the approval of the BOL would serve as testament to Bangsamoro’s determination to bring genuine peace and development to Muslim Mindanao through an autonomous government that truly represents and understands the needs of the people.

“We listened to the indispensable sentiments and concerns of Muslims, Christians, Lumads, and other indigenous peoples and various stakeholders who call Mindanao their own,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman reiterated that the BOL was the answer to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro since it would allow the Bangsamoro administration to decide on its own.
Hataman stressed that the new law was a symbol of success for the peace process.

“If it will be ratified, the message would be clear: ‘The war is over,’ he added. (With story from Julmunir I. Jannaral/The Manila Times)

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