ISABELA CITY, Basilan, Jan. 18 (PIA) -- Leaders of Isabela City Government finally expressed publicly their objection for the inclusion of the city in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) with hundreds of people attending the peace assembly, Friday.
Various sectors from the 45 barangays of the city gathered at Isabela City gymnasium on January 18 for their last public pronouncements to reject the inclusion of the city to BARMM.
Fr. Guillermo Rubillos of the Catholic Prelature of Isabela strongly opposed the city's inclusion, saying that the city has been peaceful with Muslims and Christians living together for years. He lauded the city officials who made a stand to reject the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the city's inclusion in BARMM.
Elsan Tindick, who described himself as a lowly Tausug citizen of this country but loves Isabela City, also expressed his strong stand against BOL. He argued that the term "moro" will always have a derogatory meaning, historically and practically speaking for various reasons. Thus, he strongly rejected the use the term Bangsamoro.
Historically, the "moro" term has indeed a derogatory meaning, but through the years, the term has been accepted and reclaimed by the proud Muslims in the Southern Philippines as an identity and as a people.
Article 2, Section 1 of the BOL states that the Bangsamoro people are those who, at the advent of the Spanish colonization, were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, whether of mixed or of full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves, their spouse and descendants as Bangsamoro.
Moreover, Vice-Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar, together with city councilors Faigdar A. Jaafar, Jennessa Tubongbanua, and Abner Rodriguez have publicly announced their stand to say NO to city's inclusion in BARMM. They argued about their doubts and the uncertainties that the new law is offering for the city.
"Finally, narinig na namin sa mga liders ang kanilang posisyon patungkol sa BOL at masaya kami na nasa side namin sila (Finally, we have heard the stand of our leaders, and we are happy that they are on our side)," an elderly participant said.
On January 21, the people of Isabela will determine their fate as the Duterte Administration has laid down the BOL as an alternative to lasting peace and progress in some conflict-ridden areas in Mindanao.
In a statement, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said that the President will use his "powerful influencing voice" to campaign for the ratification of the landmark measure. He reiterated the President's stand that the ratification of the BOL would solve the decades' old problem on Muslim rebellion in Mindanao.
On the other hand, the Palace official stressed that the President would respect and abide by whatever decision the public makes during the plebiscite. (ALT/RVC/PIA9-Basilan)