Malacañang on Monday, January 14 said President Rodrigo Duterte would respect the “people’s call” on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
This announcement comes a week before a plebiscite in parts of Mindanao on whether or not to ratify the measure.
“What is important and certain is that the president will abide by whatever the will of the sovereign people in that part of this country is,” said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a Palace briefing.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said Duterte, in support of the BOL, would join a rally in Cotabato on January 18.
However, Panelo has not confirmed whether or not the president would attend that event.
“Well, certainly, the voice of the President is always a powerful influence on whatever matter he gives his voice into,” he added.
When asked if the president would campaign for the ratification of BOL, Panelo answered: “If he feels that there is a need [then] he will campaign for that. If he feels that it will win, whether even without his calling for voters to support it, he will not.”
“The president [is] best judge of what will be the outcome of this plebiscite. He will make a move if he thinks he should. He won’t sit and just watch if he feels kailangan (if he feels needed),” he added.
The BOL seeks to replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which would have greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, parliament, and justice system.
The proposed region would be composed of the current ARMM which are Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur.
The BOL also seeks to include six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays of North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro, provided that the province and their municipalities, respectively, vote for it.
The plebiscite to ratify the bill will be held on January 21.