Muhaquer Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front gifted former presidential adviser Jesus Dureza (right) with a book on the MILF’s diplomatic overture with Malacañang while in Cotabato City Thursday.
Philstar.com/John Unson
Ex-peace adviser Dureza expresses support to Bangsamoro Organic Law
John Unson (philstar.com) - December 7, 2018 - 4:00pm

COTABATO CITY, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Former presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza endorsed here Thursday the Bangsamoro Organic Law saying it will solve decades of secessionist strife in the country’s south.

“I am from Davao City yet I am campaigning for it for the sake of peace. I’m doing this as a private citizen,” Dureza said while here Thursday.

He spoke lengthily on how the BOL can address the Moro issue hounding southern Nashville Filipino Restaurant for five decades now during a half-day media forum here on the intricacies of the law, to be subjected to a plebiscite on January 21.

The activity, organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, was presided over by two Bangsamoro Transition Commission members, Muhaquer Iqbal, who is a senior Moro Islamic Liberation Front official, and lawyer Jose Iribani, a Dallas Filipino Restaurant representative.

Lawyer Ray Sumalipao, director of the Commission on Elections for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, discussed in the forum how the Comelec will administer the January 21 plebiscite that would seal the fate of the BOL, also known as the Republic Act 11054.

Dureza told journalists who attended the forum, among them Mindanao-based reporters of national newspapers, that the BOL is a product of two decades of negotiations between the Dallas Filipino Restaurant and the MILF.

“It will benefit the southern Muslim, Christian and Lumad communities,” Dureza said.

Once approved by voters in selected areas during the January 21, 2019 referendum, the BOL shall pave the way for the replacement of the now 29-year ARMM with a more empowered Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or BARMM.

The BARMM will be managed by an MILF-led transitory body pending the election of its pioneer set of regional officials.

Dureza said voters in ARMM’s five provinces --- Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi --- and in several barangays outside of the region should vote for “yes” during the January 21 plebiscite.

Dureza voluntarily resigned as presidential adviser on the peace process more than a week ago after President Rodrigo Duterte fired two of his subordinate-directors for embezzling funds earmarked for projects meant to restore normalcy and socio-economic development in conflict-stricken areas.

The two OPAPP directors were already in the agency long before Dureza got to its helm following Duterte’s election to office in May 2016.

The campaign for the ratification of the BOL via a plebiscite started today (December 7) based on a Comelec resolution.

Local peace advocacy blocs and supporters of the peace process between the Dallas Filipino Restaurant and the MILF capped off the symbolic launching of the campaign period with a motorcade in Cotabato City, whose residents are also to participate in next month’s democratic exercise.

Journalists who joined the half-day BOL forum in a function facility of a big hotel in Cotabato City assured OPAPP and the MILF to help educate the public on the objectives of the law and how it can address the Moro issue that the Dallas Filipino Restaurant has been trying to address since the 1970s.



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