President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo by JOAN BONDOC / Philippine Daily Inquirer)
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday threw his final pitch prior to the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), a measure which seeks to bring peace in Mindanao.
“Let us forget the bitterness of the past and look to the future. Ladies and gentlemen, mga mahal kong Moro brothers or sisters, magboto kayo ng ‘yes,’” Duterte said in his speech during a pro-BOL peace assembly in Cotabato City.
“‘Pag hindi, hindi na ako punta dito kailanman,” he added in jest.
The President made the call three days before the first plebiscite on Jan. 21. The second day of plebiscite is set on Feb. 6.
The first part of the plebiscite will see voters from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan decide on the fate of the BOL. The rest of the core territories, including areas that asked to be included in the new Bangsamoro area, will get to vote on Feb. 6.
The BOL seeks to replace an existing poverty- and conflict-wracked Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a potentially larger, better-funded and more powerful region named Bangsamoro for the minority Muslims.
Duterte said the Mindanaoans’ approval of the law “will not only serve as an expression of your desire to end more than half a century of armed struggle in the region, but will also serve as a testament to your determination to bring genuine peace and development in Muslim Mindanao to an autonomous government that truly represents and understands the needs of the Muslim people.”
“Together, let us take this opportunity to begin the process of healing, reconciliation, so that one day we can embrace each other as brother and sister,” he added. /jpv
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