By Gamze Turkoglu Oguz
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Philippines reiterated its commitment to a peaceful and orderly plebiscite for greater autonomy to predominantly Muslim region of Bangsamoro on Mindanao island.
After a meeting with the presidential peace advisor, MNLF Central Committee chairman Yusop Jikiri said his faction was “100 percent behind” the president’s bid to “bring lasting peace and progress” to the southern province of Mindanao.
For his part, advisor Carlito G. Galvez Jr. congratulated the MNLF for conducting successful and peaceful campaign rallies in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
He added that the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) would bring unity, security and peace to Mindanao, calling on the MNLF to ensure that the plebiscite truly reflects the people’s will without intimidation and coercion.
The measure for greater autonomy creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, a region with more political and fiscal powers including a bigger annual block grant equivalent to 5 percent of the total national internal revenue collection.
While the establishment of the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the result of negotiations between the government and the MNLF, the Bangsamoro Organic Law has been forged as a result of the peace agreement that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed with former President Benigno Aquino III in 2014.
The MILF is a breakaway group of the MNLF.
Voting is set to begin on Jan. 21 in two cities, with a second round to be held on Feb. 6 in other areas in the neighboring region.
Separately, Japan’s top envoy to the Philippines, Koji Haneda had expressed on Friday support for the ongoing peace process, saying he hoped the BOL would win the “heart of the Bangsamoro people.”