Lawyer advocating Bangsamoro Organic Law shot dead in Maguindanao

John Unson - The Philippine Star

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — A lawyer was shot dead by an unidentified assailant as he was campaigning for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in Datu Unsay town here yesterday.

Nasser Laban, 48, was convincing passengers of a public utility van to participate in a plebiscite that will seal the fate of the BOL when he was killed.

Laban died at the scene from gunshot wounds in the head, according to Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The assailant, who was armed with a pistol, was one of the passengers of the van that was headed for Cotabato City from Sultan Kudarat.

The assailant reportedly asked the driver, Kaliman Sangkad, 43, to pull over in a secluded area of Barangay Meta, before drawing out a gun and firing at the victim.

The suspect also shot and seriously wounded Sangkad before he got off the vehicle to transfer to a waiting motorcycle driven by another man.

Mijares said Laban had been going around central Mindanao to participate and endorse the BOL in public consultations.

The BOL is the enabling measure for the replacement of the ARMM with a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, if approved through a plebiscite on Jan.  21.

The law was based on two peace agreements signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro. 

ARMM youths favor BOL

A majority of the youths in the ARMM and other concerned provinces are in favor of the BOL, according to a survey conducted by a non-government organization (NGO).

Results of an initial survey by peacebuilding NGO, International Alert Philippines, showed that 59.8 percent of the respondents are in favor of the BOL, whether they intend to vote or not.

Votes in favor of the BOL were higher among respondents who said they intended to vote in the plebiscite at 86.5 percent. 

The most number of those in favor were respondents from Tangkal and Munai municipalities in Lanao del Norte and Aleosan in Cotabato. 

The fewest were from Sulu, where more than 70 percent of the respondents said they are still unsure what to vote for. 

Of the 614 respondents – aged 18 to 35 – surveyed, around a third are still unsure if they would vote for the BOL.

Meanwhile, 9.9 percent said they are not in favor of the BOL.

The respondents surveyed were residents of the ARMM, Isabela City, Cotabato City, Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato. 

Nikki dela Rosa, Alert’s country manager, said the youth vote is crucial in the January plebiscite as it makes up 57 percent of the voting population of the ARMM voters.

Data from the 2016 elections showed that there were 850,000 voters belonging to the youth sector out of the 1.59 million voters in ARMM.

Dela Rosa said the survey highlighted the fact that young people know what they are voting for, after they checked the familiarity of the respondents with the BOL. – With Romina Cabrera

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