Duterte makes last pitch for Bangsamoro Organic Law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — President Rodrigo Duterte made a last pitch for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), pleading to Cotabato City residents to vote in favor of the measure which would abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and establish the new Bangsamoro ARMM (BARMM).

"Let us use the plebiscite as a peaceful means to finally correct the historical injustice against the Moro people of Mindanao. Let us forget the bitterness of the past and move on to the future," Duterte said Friday, a day before the end of the campaign period for the BOL plebiscite.

Duterte was joined by members of his Cabinet, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim and Moro National Liberation Front chairman Yusop Jikiri at a peace assembly in Cotabato City, one of the three areas which would vote Monday whether to approve or reject the BOL.

Duterte's presence at the peace assembly in the regional office of the ARMM is seen as a symbol of his call for this city to eventually join and embrace the BARMM.

Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, the mayor of Cotabato, which is not part of ARMM but hosts its offices, has openly expressed her opposition to add the city to the BARMM. She has also called for the Commission on Elections chair to inhibit from the plebiscite.

The plebiscite, where Cotabato, Isabela City, Basilan and ARMM would vote in, is going to be historic since this is the first time that the MILF, a former revolutionary force, would submit itself to a democratic electoral process.

Duterte promised in 2016 that he will support the passage, implementation and ratification of the BOL, citing its contribution to bringing peace in Mindanao.

Isabela and Cotabato residents would be deciding whether they want to be included in the BARMM, while ARMM residents would decide if they want the BOL ratified.

Basilan province would also be voting whether it will allow Isabela City to join the BARMM.

CNN Philippines' David Santos and Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.