The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shares the optimism and vision of the Bangsamoro people with the signing into law of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) by President Duterte Thursday night.
DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año says, “This is a historic breakthrough not just for the Moro people and Mindanaoans but for the whole nation as the BOL is a monumental document of unity for development among various levels of government—local, national, executive and legislature – as well as the people.”
“The BOL is a proof of the administration’s genuine resolve for peace and development and sincerity in empowering regional and local governments for the greater benefit of the Filipino people,” he says.
Año also urges communist groups to take inspiration from the fruitful result of the peace talks between Moro rebels and the government. "We can also solve the Communist insurgency if only the communist rebels would reciprocate the confidence-building and peace-building being done by the government towards nation-building," he says.
"We are not giving up on peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF. Following the example of the MILF and the MNLF, its possible to have peace if there is mutual trust, a commitment to a ceasefire, and no attacks on government forces. I hope that the Left will be inspired by the signing of the BOL," he adds.
The BOL envisions the establishment of an expanded and more empowered form of the current ARMM now to be called Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The DILG Chief says the arrival to a BOL has a long, winding history crossing five decades and several Presidential administrations.
He says that BOL had to go through armed struggle costing loss of lives among Moro rebels, government forces, and civilians as well as displacement of people before it found its way to be recognized as a legitimate cause for peace talks and now its passage into law.
The BOL seeks 75-25 wealth sharing between the national and Bangsamoro government in favor of the latter.
A testament for the need for federalism
DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya says that the history of struggle for the passage of BOL is a testament for the need for federalism, contrary to claims of anti-charter change advocates that the same benefits can be gained in the present form of government.
“History cannot be discounted. BOL does not refute the need for federalism. In fact, federalism is the synchronous, legal, and peaceful means of attaining empowered regional governments. Hindi kailangang paisa-isa ang pagpapalakas ng mga rehiyon sa bansa. Sabay-sabay ang pag-unlad sa federalism,” he emphasizes.
He explains that if we persist with the current form of government, regions pushing for greater autonomy would individually go through painstaking process of approval by the three branches of government. “In federalism, regions will systematically, simultaneously, and complementarily be empowered,” he adds.
Malaya urges the people to have an informed opinion on federalism and to listen with an open mind and unprejudiced judgment because “that is how BOL came intro fruition when all sides are genuinely ready to listen.”
He says that federalism will be the legacy, not of the current administration, but the whole of nation for the next generation of Filipinos as the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution to pave way for federalism would also go through a plebiscite like the establishment of BARMM.