Statement on the eve of the January 21 Plebiscite
As people in select areas of Mindanao are set to vote on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), stands in solidarity with the peoples in the Bangsamoro, reiterates its full support for peacebuilding and their continuing struggle for self-determination in the region championed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). We note and give credit to the efforts of the various peace panels of both the MILF and the Philippine Government who have mutually hammered a deal leading to tomorrow’s plebiscite after almost two decades of tedious, if not, difficult negotiations. But tomorrow, history will develop towards the realization of the Bangsamoro promise whatever the result may be.
A chapter is ending in this long-drawn process as a new beginning will also start to unfold.
The plebiscite scheduled on January 21 and February 6 is a milestone not only in the timeline of peacebuilding, but in the history that every Filipino shares with one another. This exercise of the peoples’ right to democratic participation as they chart the path for the future of the Bangsamoro calls for respect and recognition, and we must all take part in ensuring the integrity of the plebiscite’s results.
We call on the local government units and their officials to lend their support to the conduct of the plebiscite, and let the people exercise their right to vote absent of fear and threats to their safety. The peoples must be allowed to cast their vote as part of their right to political participation through the upcoming plebiscite, and their vote must be allowed to truly reflect their aspirations and hopes for their communities.
We call on advocates from all sides of the political debate and all sectors of the Bangsamoro to push for an informed vote, one that echoes facts and not falsities. A thorough understanding of the BOL and its future implementation is key to building a better and stronger Bangsamoro region, and we need to fill in the gaps in information instead of widening them, even after the votes in the plebiscite have been cast.
We call on every Filipino — regardless of religion, ethnicity, age or gender — to learn more about the Bangsamoro and to stand in solidarity with the people of Mindanao who are currently facing a political transition as they build on the foundations laid by those who have carried on the decades-long struggle for genuine autonomy and self-determination. Involvement in these political processes is not limited to casting a vote on the day of the plebiscite. It also requires understanding and solidarity, knowing that our lives are inextricably connected to those who live in the Bangsamoro.
For the diverse peoples in the Bangsamoro, may you be fearless and unstoppable. Tomorrow, January 21, 2019 make an inspired, robust decision towards bold, life-changing actions. Let us all prepare for the future we are building for the next generation guided by mutual respect, and a collective desire for just and lasting peace.
Cast your vote for peace!