BOL not a ‘quick fix’
Jan. 21 marked a significant moment for Mindanao as the Bangsamoro finally put into vote a law that will create a new governing entity that, in turn, will provide the tools to resolve issues that have long held back the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) from reaching its full potential.
We at the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy hope for the success of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), since it is our belief that a strengthened autonomy will lay the foundation for the just peace and inclusive development crucial to the prevention of violent extremism in Mindanao.
The BOL provides fiscal autonomy, automatic appropriation of the block grant, funds for the rehabilitation and development of conflict-ridden areas, a judiciary based on Sharia laws, and safeguards to ensure that human rights for all will be protected and promoted.
However, let us all be reminded that the BOL ratification is not a quick fix for the region’s systemic problems. Weak and poor governance in the autonomous region cannot be resolved merely by a change in law. It is up to the region’s leaders to effectively utilize the additional powers under the BOL, and ensure better governance.
In like manner, issues that affect the nation such as inflation and the continued imposition of martial law should be addressed by the national government to mitigate the negative impact on, and further strengthen, the region.
The vote for the BOL represents our hopes and dreams for a better future for our children. That future can best be determined by the ARMM residents themselves in a democracy. Thus, whatever the result of the plebiscite, let us respect differences in opinion, whether for inclusion or exclusion in the new autonomous region.
Ending decades of violent conflict and healing the divide caused by civil strife may not be accomplished overnight. Let us continue to support the people of the Bangsamoro as they choose their path toward peace and development, which have long been overdue.
Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy,
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