MILF to hold Consultative Assembly to prepare for Bangsamoro law implementation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 27) — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will hold the Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly on Sunday to jumpstart preparations to implement the Bangsamoro Organic Law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

MILF Vice Chairman and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) head Ghadzali Jaafar said Friday the meeting will be attended by thousands of members and leaders of political and military committes within the Bangsamoro area, as well as the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.

A main talking point will be the plebiscite, which will decide other areas, towns, or cities that will join Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in the Bangsamoro region. 

Jaafar said the referendum is expected to be held in November, and its results will be known within the same month or in December.

The MILF leader said individuals who cannot join the assembly may have their own consultations in their respective provinces.

Jaafar also hopes critics who have questioned the constitutionality of the law, even those wanting to raise the case to the Supreme Court, will eventually learn to support the autonomous government. 

"At the end of the day, ang desisyon ng nakakarami ang siyang mamamayani sapagakat 'yun ang rule in a democratic country," Jaafar said in an interview with CNN Philippines Newsroom Ngayon. 

"Having said that, 'yung mga magpe-petition sa Supreme Court, gusto po naming hilingin na huwag na sanang ituloy, at pagtulungan nalang natin ito," he added.

[Translation: At the end of the day, the decision of the majority will prevail because that is the rule in a democratic country. Having said that, I hope those who plan to petition to the Supreme Court will not push through with it. Let's help each other instead.]

A government for the Bangsamoro people

Jaafar thanked the president for finally signing the Bangsamoro law on Thursday.

"Unang una, pinaparating po namin in behalf of the Moro people, sa mga mamamayan ng Mindanao, ang lubos na pasasalamat natin sa mahal na pangulo," he said.

"Sa wakas ay magkakaroon na ng gobyerno ang mga mamamayan ng Bangsamoro," Jaafar added.

[Translation: First of all, in behalf of the Moro people and the residents of Mindanao, we would like to thank our beloved president. At last, there will finally be a government for the Bangsamoro people.]

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who pushed for the ratification of the law, said this development is just the beginning for stakeholders and legislators.

"We thank President Duterte for signing the BOL as he promised. He closely followed our work. Now, the more difficult part begins," the senator said in a statement.

The Department of National Defense also welcomed the signing of the law, saying it is "optimistic that this landmark legislation will usher in a new era of peace in Mindanao.'

READ: The Bangsamoro Organic Law: Everything you need to know

The Bangsamoro law will establish the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. 

With the law finally signed by the president, the next step will be for the Commission on Elections to start preparations for the provinces and areas joining the plebiscite later this year. The election body has yet to get a copy of the new directive, but it estimated 3 to 3.5 million will participate in the polls. 

Once the coverage of the Bangsamoro territory is finalized, Duterte will have to appoint officials who will constitute the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which will serve as the transition government from 2019 to 2022.

CNN Philippines' David Santos contributed to this report.