by Albert Lawrence Idia
IT HAS been a long and difficult journey, but in a historic moment, Mindanaons ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on January 21, 2019. The creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) would replace the 30-year-old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), after two decades of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
As CMFR observed the coverage of these momentous events, the media that report war and conflict with such dramatic accounts cannot seem to do the same for the painstaking measures for peace.
In a previous monitor, CMFR noted that news coverage did not quite capture the significance of the holding of the plebiscite or its result; much of the coverage can only be described as “run-of-the-mill.” Journalists held back from providing background, shirking analysis of the prospects for a more permanent peace.
What has happened since? The public has received little information, with the customary disinterest of national media in significantly reporting positive developments in Mindanao. CMFR has thus relied on the reports of Mindanao-based MindaNews for its consistent tracking of events since the plebiscite.
BARMM TIMELINE: DEVELOPMENTS IN 2019
Plebiscite. Out of a total of 1,980,441 registered voters in the ARMM, 1,540,017 voted “yes” (77.76%) while 198,750 voted “no” (10.04%). A total of 1,738,767 actually voted, for a voter turnout of 87.80%. Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato were scheduled to vote February 6.
After the plebiscite for Lanao del Norte towns and 67 North Cotabato towns, BARMM’S jurisdiction finally set: Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi Tawi, cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato, plus 116 ARMM towns and 63 Barangays in six North Cotabato towns.
Inauguration was tentatively set for March 11 then changed to March 21. Schedule moved again two more times: from March 25 to March 29. Changes were due to the availability of President Duterte, per Ebrahim.
BTA resumed session in Cotabato City. The agenda: adoption of internal rules, organization of committees and initial report of those assigned on the different Codes and selected matters.
Retired Army Colonel Dickson Hermoso was appointed as BARMM chief of Ministry of Transportation and Communication. He was an assistant secretary at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim signed the law creating the region’s official flag. It was the first act of its parliament.