Senators back BOL referendum

Sen. Miguel Zubiri

THE recently enacted Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) yesterday received boost from several senators who vowed to ensure funds for its referendum by the people.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said that after the passage of the BOL, it is now in their hands to ensure the law will be successful in addressing the decades long Mindanao conflict.

Zubiri said he will coordinate with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the holding of the plebiscite for the BOL.

Also, Zubiri is optimistic that President Duterte will instruct concerned government agencies to do their parts for the success of BOL.

“I will follow through with the provisions for the plebiscite, its funding and Comelec’s preparations for the BOL, even as it (Comelec) prepares for next year’s midterm elections,” Zubiri said.

“I’m sure the President will see to it that all government agencies concerned will be up to their respective tasks and that budget, personnel and other resources needed will be sufficient,” he added.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said that since there is no budget yet for BOL under 2018 appropriations, adjustments may be necessary to allot funds for the law.

“When the budget was being prepared, the BOL was not yet approved and it is yet to be stamped through a plebiscite. So, it is not yet in existence. But assuming that before the year is over BOL is ratified, there must be some adjustments in the budget to include at least the share of the taxes three years ago, five per cent,” Drilon said.

“There must be some adjustment in the budget before the end of 2018. But if it goes beyond 2018, we should have a supplemental budget,” he added.

Signed by the President last week, the BOL is the product of the decades-long peace negotiations between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Zubiri earlier stressed that BOL is better than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was branded as a failed experiment to address the Bangsamoro Issue.

The MILF leadership is satisfied with what the BOL offers to the Bangsamoro people, saying it is better than the ARMM, which was the result of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the GPH and the Moro National Liberation Front.

p: wjg