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MANILA, Philippines – If efforts to block the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) are successful or if the law is not ratified, violent extremism will flourish in Mindanao, Chief Presidential Adviser Jesus Dureza warned.
Dureza expressed this view as he explained the importance of greenlighting the BOL, which is being questioned before the Supreme Court.
“If BOL will not pass – I’m not threatening, I’m not making people fearful that you have to support the BOL – but my real sense is that violent extremism may have a fertile ground if we don’t push through with the BOL,” he said during a Rappler Talk interview on Wednesday, November 14.
There are “high expectations” for the BOL, especially among residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who will become part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) if the BOL is ratified.
The 5-month Marawi siege, said Dureza, had convinced many in the region of the urgency of ratifying the BOL in order to contain the spread of extremism.
“They saw what happened in Marawi. They thought that they won’t be affected…because they thought they are our fellow Bangsamoro they won’t touch us, but it happened,” he said.
“The ugly face of violent extremism had surfaced and I’m sure one big thing in getting people to support the BOL is the real danger that if this doesn’t push through, many will spread intrigue and it will even trigger more [people] to adopt the violent extremist ideology,” Dureza added.
The plebiscite for the BOL is set to take place on January 21, 2019 – just two months away. But a plebiscite period when government and the law’s supporters can campaign will be from December 7 to February 5.
‘Yes!’ campaign starts in December
Dureza said the government is set to launch a “Yes vote” campaign for the BOL to help ensure its ratification.
A grand launch is being organized on December 7 with events happening simultaneously in various critical cities and towns in Mindanao.
One challenge the BOL is up against is disinformation, said the presidential adviser.
“Our chief concern now is the correct information must be brought to the grassroots. Remember there are those who are opposing and they can easily twist some information there,” he said.
Though he declined to specify what false information was being spread, he said there have been attempts to “scare” Mindanaoans about the BOL.
An information campaign to bring “the real story of the BARMM” to the masses will be carried out during the December to February plebiscite period.
Supreme Court test
Another test looms for the Bangsamoro law, this time in the halls of the Supreme Court.
Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan II filed a petition seeking to block the BOL, citing supposed constitutional infirmities.
But Dureza is confident the BOL will pass the constitutionality test.
He gave credit to the Senate and House of Representatives for being particularly careful in “navigating the constitutionally sensitive provisions” and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for agreeing to modify those provisions.
“When both chambers came up with a reconciled version…after a lot of work and after the MILF agreed to even downscale some of the provisions there because of constitutionality issues, I think I am very confident it will pass the constitutionality test,” said Dureza.
In the interview, Dureza also said he supports another martial law extension in Mindanao to help ensure a successful and peaceful BOL plebiscite. – Rappler.com