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Lasting peace in Mindanao at hand with BOL-Palace.

Malacanang is optimistic that peace will finally be achieved in Mindanao with President Duterte's signing of the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on Thursday night.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque noted that the President himself had recognized that the passage of the law creating the Bangsamoro autonomous region was vital to attaining lasting peace.

'He really pushed for this to become a law,' Roque said in an interview over dzRH on Friday.

Mr. Duterte was supposed to sign the BOL into law on Monday before his State of the Nation Address (Sona), but was unable to do so as the House of Representatives adjourned before it could be ratified.

'I have signed [the BOL]. I have no expectations, although not everybody might like it. Let's see if we can modify or change it, since those disappointed might just start a war,' the President said on Thursday night.

Lay down arms

Republic Act No. 11054, or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM) in Muslim Mindanao, creates the Bangsamoro autonomous region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Roque expressed hope that with the passage of the landmark law that grants self-rule and autonomy to them, rebel groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would finally lay down their arms.

'It took a Mindanaoan President to finally get this done, and this will be [the Duterte] administration's legacy,' Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement on Friday.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, however, cautioned that 'we should learn from history,' recalling how the MILF broke away from Moro National Liberation Front in 1977 after the latter forged a peace pact with the government under the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.

The law, which grants expanded autonomy for the Muslim south, has for years been a crucial missing element to a languishing peace pact with the MILF, which, along with other guerilla groups, has waged a rebellion that has claimed about 150,000 lives since the 1970s.

ARMM employees

Except for the thousands of ARMM employees who feared losing their jobs, the Moro people generally welcomed Mr. Duterte's signing of the BOL.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF's peace panel, told the Inquirer they were happy when they heard from the President that the BOL had been signed.

'We are happy, it's a milestone and a very important chapter in the quest for solution to our problem in Mindanao,' Iqbal said. 'In Congress, [during the deliberation of] the bicameral conference committee, even during the [Sona], which had turned so dramatic, we thought it would never be ratified.'

But at least 6,000 employees would stand to lose their jobs once the ARMM is abolished to give way to the BARMM, said Marites Maguindra, spokesperson for the ARMM Employees Welfare Group.

Maguindra said 23,000 employees would be absorbed by the BARMM, but it would still leave 6,000 employees out in the cold.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jul 28, 2018
Words:567
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