Cotabato City mayor defends opposition to Bangsamoro law

MANILA, Philippines – Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani Sayadi defended her opposition to the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), saying she and her people have suffered months-long harassment by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Sayadi said on Saturday, January 19, that residents in her city have been harassed by MILF combatants since July 2018. (READ: As Bangsamoro vote nears, tensions rise in Cotabato City)

"I have recorded crimes committed by MILF followers. Like for instance, robbery, murder, and even involvement in drugs," said Sayadi, who represents the so-called "crown jewel" in the region.

Though not part of the ARMM, Cotabato City is the region's capital and is the site of almost all the government offices there.  

In August 2018, however, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Cotabato City was burned. While the perpetrators have not been identified, Sayadi said it became "convenient" for the poll body's office to be transferred within the ARMM area following the fire. 

"If they cannot control their people, then much more reason if they win, they cannot also control the people," said Sayadi, in an apparent swipe to the MILF.

She said the MILF also allegedly harassed Cotabato City residents online, including herself.  

"I was not spared. I was called names in the social media. I was harassed. I was accused of so many crimes I did not even commit. And even in my mind, I haven't done those things," said Sayadi.

The mayor, the champion of the "no" vote in the Bangsamoro plebiscite, said she had reported these cases to the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the Philippine government and the MILF, but no action was taken.

"So each time that I call the attention of the MILF hierarchy through the CCCH, it hasn't been acted [upon]. Aside from that, there are reports also of barangay officials being harassed," said Sayadi.

The MILF is the Muslim rebel group that will come into power when the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is created. The ratification of the BOL will automatically create this new political entity, should a majority of residents from the ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City vote yes during the plebiscite on Monday, January 21.  

But Autonomy and Governance executive director Benedict Bacani said that if a good number of Cotabato City residents will show up for the BOL plebiscite, they will thumb down the BARMM. – Rappler.com 

Bookmark these pages: