BTC official claims misinformation spread vs. BOL in Lanao Norte

ILIGAN CITY — An official of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) said there have been reports of misinformation being circulated against the Bangsamoro Organic Law in Lanao del Norte since the start of the campaign period in December.

On January 21, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) residents go out to vote for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. Non-ARMM areas, such as Cotabato City and Lanao del Sur, except Iligan City, which is a part of Lanao del Norte, will hold the plebiscite on February 6.

In a BOL media forum in Marawi City organized by the Marawi Broadcasters Association, Commissioner Ammal Solaiman said one of the misinformation being circulated is that “the whole Lanao del Norte will be included in the Bangsamoro area if the BOL will be ratified and ‘yes’ votes will win in the province.”

“Again, I would like to clarify that it is not the concept. Only the six municipalities, and those that filed their petition, will be included in the Bangsamoro if ‘yes’ votes will win. Actually, hindi lahat ng nag-petition ang na-approve (not all petitioners were approved),” Solaiman said.

Another misinformation being circulated is that Christian residents in Lanao del Norte would be stripped of their rights once the BOL is ratified.

“There are provisions in the BOL that would protect the rights of Christian residents. In fact, magkakaroon din sila ng opisina sa Bangsamoro. Hindi totoo na aping-api sila (Christians) pagdating sa Bangsamoro government. Maraming provision sa BOL na tutugon sa problema ng ating mga kapatid na Kristiyano (In fact, they will have their office in the Bangsamoro. It is not true that Christians will be oppressed in the Bangsamoro government. Many provisions in the BOL would address the problems of our Christian brothers),” she said.

“Power grabbing din daw ang BOL kasi once ma-ratify daw, matatanggal si mayor, matatanggal si barangay chairman. Walang katotohanan yan. In fact, lahat ng mga local government officials natin are protected by the local government code (They said BOL is also power grabbing, because once it is ratified, incumbent mayors, barangay chairpersons will be booted out. There’s no truth to this. In fact, all our local government officials are protected by the local government code)” Solaiman said.

She said the Bangsamoro government cannot enforce Islam on non-Muslim residents once the BOL is ratified.

“Hindi totoo na mapipilitan silang (Christians) magsuot ng kumbong, mapipilitan silang mag-pray (Islamic prayer), na hindi na sila pwedeng mag-shorts at mapipilitan silang mag-Muslim at i-embrace ang identity ng Bangsamoro (It is not true that they will be forced to wear the ‘hijab’, or they will be forced to pray the Islamic prayer, that they are not anymore allowed to wear short pants and they will be forced to embrace the identity of the Bangsamoro)” she added.

She cited a provision in the BOL that gives residents the freedom of choice to ascribe or not to ascribe to the Bangsamoro identity.

Solaiman also assured that in the BOL, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines would not be phased out.

“Kung titingnanponatinhindi pa ibinigayang Bangsamoro police nadini-demand natin (If we look at it, the Bangsamoro police that we have demanded for has not yet been granted),” she said.

The BTC is divided into two teams for the two plebiscites: the lawyers team that will focus on the legalities and legal issues while the second team are non-lawyers assigned to the information and education campaign.

Governor Abdusakur Tan II of Sulu filed the first Supreme Court petition to block the landmark BOL, citing questions on constitutionality.

Tan filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with a request for temporary restraining order (TRO) before the SC. 
Divina Suson / PNA –