Comelec announces ratification of Bangsamoro law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is officially ratified.

Provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) except Sulu voted to ratify Republic Act 11054, which is envisioned to end the decades-long conflict in Mindanao, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced.

The poll body en banc, sitting as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (NPBOC), confirmed this after the official tally was completed Friday night.

Despite Sulu's rejection, the law would still be ratified as majority of the residents in the ARMM-- which voted as one geographical area-- overwhelmingly voted in favor of the BOL.

The official tabulation revealed that a total of 1,540,017 voted "yes" to approve the BOL, while 198,750 residents rejected the law.

Cotabato City, which is not an official part of ARMM, will be part of the new Bangsamoro region after majority of its residents cast their votes in favor of the inclusion.

Cotabato City's final certificate of canvass reflected 36,682 "yes" votes and 24,994 "no" votes.

Meanwhile, Isabela City in Basilan will be excluded from the new autonomous region as 22,441 of its residents rejected inclusion. The "yes" votes for the city totaled at 19,032.

Approximately 1.7 million Mindanaoans participated in the first Bangsamoro plebiscite.

The new Bangsamoro region will take the place of the current ARMM. A second plebiscite is still scheduled on February 6 for Lanao del Norte excluding Iligan City, North Cotabato, and the 28 areas which petitioned for inclusion into the new autonomous region.

Following ratification, the BOL states that President Rodrigo Duterte should appoint members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) which will include incumbent officials of the regional government.

The BTA will have legislative and executive powers during the transition period. It will be considered the Bangsamoro government during the transition and will have exclusive powers over budgeting, justice, agriculture, human rights, and tourism, among others.

In a statement, Vice President Leni Robredo said that peace is now at hand for the people in the region.

"Sa matagal na panahon, marami marahil ang nagsabing mananatiling pangarap lamang ang kapayapaan sa Mindanao. Ngayon, pagkatapos ng ilang taon ng pagsisikap at pakikipag-usap, sakripisyo at paniniwala, sa wakas, ang pangarap na ito ay abot-kamay na rin natin," Robredo said.

[Translation: For a long time, many have said that peace in Mindanao might only be a dream. But now, after how many years of sacrifice and talks, sacrifice and belief, finally peace is at hand.]

She added that people should monitor the continued progress of this law.

The European Union (EU) also congratulated the Philippines on the ratification of the BOL.

"The EU is prepared to continue to support the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and to work closely with the relevant stakeholders towards long-lasting peace, development and prosperity for the benefit of Mindanao and the Filipino people," it said in a statement.