MILF Commander Bravo asks Lanao del Norte voters to support Bangsamoro law

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Commander Bravo of the MILF's Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 20) — A top commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is calling on people from Lanao del Norte to throw their support behind the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

In a video posted on social media, Commader Al Mujahid Abdullah "Bravo" Macapaar said, "Gusto kong pasalamatan ang lahat ng sumusuporta sa Bangsamoro Organic Law, lalong-lalo na sa mga kapatid kong mga Kristiyano na patuloy na nagsisikap sa pagsusulong ng kapayapaan at pagkakaisa dito sa Lanao del Norte sa pamamagitan ng pagsuporta sa inclusion ng anim na munisipyo Tagolo-an, Munai, Balo-i, Tangcal, Pantar, at Nunungan sa Bangsamoro. Huwag po kayong matakot dahil nasa tamang panig kayo at kaisa ninyo ang MILF at ang Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte."

[Translation: I want to thank everyone supporting the Bangsamoro Organic Law, especially my Christian brothers and sisters who continue to work towards the advancement of peace and unity here Lanao de Norte by pushing for the inclusion of the six municipalities of Tagolo-an, Munai, Balo-i, Tangcal, Pantar, at Nunungan in the Bangsamoro. Do not be afraid because you are on the right side and the MILF and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte are with you.]

Last week, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez and Lanao del Norte 2nd District Representative Abdullah "Bobby" Dimapor made a historic visit to Bravo in Camp Bilal in Munai.

Macapaar added he has talked to Dimaporo and told him not to intimidate people and allow them to vote freely.

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

Dimaporo is against the inclusion of several towns in his region to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Munai Mayor Casan Maquiling said Commander Bravo's statement will definitely boost the yes vote campaign.

"Sa tingin ko, majority sa mga tao boboto ng yes sa bayan ng Munai," he said.

[Translation: I believe majority of the people in the town of Munai will vote yes.]

Dimaporo extended a similar appeal to others opposing the inclusion.

"Nakikiusap ako sa inyo na huwag natin takutin ang mga taong nangangarap ng kapayapaan at gustong bumoto ng yes dahil baka mabunga ito ng hindi pagkakaunawaan at kaguluhan sa Lanao del Norte," he said.

[Translation: I am asking you to not intimidate people who are hoping for peace and want to vote yes, as this might result in disagreements and conflict in Lanao del Norte.]

The MILF commander also gave this assurance, "Wala kaming balak na manggulo dahil ayaw namin ng gulo ngunit sinisiguro ko sa inyo na pagkatapos ng plebisito, ipagtatanggol ko ang sinumang masasaktan sa lahat ng yes I supporter, Muslim man o Kristiyano."

[Translation: We have no plans of causing trouble because we do not want it, but I assure all of you that after the plebiscite, I will defend anyone who voted yes, whether they are Muslim or Christian.]

READ: BOL supporters say law to bring peace, stability, fiscal independence to region

Macapaar also extended an appeal to Christians, asking them not to let the President's push for peace fail.

"Magkaisa po tayo para sa kapayapaan. Huwag natin hayaang mabigo at ang Presidente sa kanyang programa para sa kapayapaan at huwag nating hayaan na sirain ang kinabukasan ng ating mga anak kapalit ng interes ng mga taong naghari-hari dito sa Lanao del Norte na gustong ipagpalit ang interes ng nakararami para lamang sa kanilang pagsasariling interes," he said.

[Translation: Let us unite for peace. Let us not let the President's program for peace fail, and let us not let our children's future be destroyed in exchange for those who lord over Lanao del Norte who want to forsake the interest of the majority for their own.]

On January 21, areas under ARMM, along with Cotabato City and Isabela City, will be voting for or against the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and whether or not they would allow themselves to be included into the new Bangsamoro ARMM (BARMM) that would replace the present ARMM. A second plebiscite for Lanao del Norte excluding Iligan City, North Cotabato and the 28 areas which petitioned for inclusion into the BARMM would be held on February 6.