AS OF this writing, the official ballots of the plebiscite are being counted. Reports coming in from poll watchers and volunteers on the ground have noted the number of people who have come to cast their vote.
Whether young or old, poor or rich, far and wide, the Bangsamoro from all over the country gathered in their hometowns to exercise their right to vote.
There is nothing else much to do but to wait for an official declaration, but it is all over social media at this point; Cotabato City and Isabela City will be part of the BARMM, in shaa Allah.
If we had once thought that it was hard work to even pass the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), today the real work begins. Regardless of their vote, or even if they voted at all, the Bangsamoro is still reeling from the effects of war, strife, conflict and disunity.
There is much infrastructure needed to support such a large overhaul in government. The normalization of former combatants, the creation of a Bagsamoro Civil Code for the public sector, more investments in the livelihood and products that the region seeks to produce. This is a large task, and we cannot do it alone.
Those who seek to rule over such proud cultures and traditions should know that whatever votes for “no” do not matter anymore. They will still be part of our constituency, and if we do not serve their needs as well, nobody wins. We must learn to manage our expectations, because there is still so much work left to do.
With the MILF and the BTC as caretakers to the future BARMM, we must note that this is only the beginning of a long road to peace, stability, and prosperity. We must recall how we were taught by our forefathers, our teachers, and by experience to do what is best and what is expedient for the benefit of our people. How we start to rebuild our state, the foundation that we set, will determine whether our efforts were worth it.
I have been witness to countless people who have given their time, energy, effort, and sometimes even their lives, to the cause of the Bangsamoro. It is our duty, now that we have conducted the plebiscite, to listen to the voice of the people and address their needs. We need to gather all concerned sectors to find solutions to the task ahead of each of us.
We each have our own roles to play in the future of the Bangsamoro, and it is now time for us to play them. For the academe, it is time to educate and train skilled personnel and research for the benefit of all.
The public and private sectors, our collection of CSOs and volunteers, must come together to find solutions to the myriad of problems that we will surely face. There is also a need to address agriculture, economy, business, trade, and technology. We will need all the help we can get.
I also urge these sectors to call upon the youth, as the inheritors of the state, to be trained in the ways that they can serve the people. They deserve a proper education, means of living, skills and development, exposure to other cultures. That way, the future that we build upon will be secured in the promise of our youth.
This is not an easy task, but our burdens can be lightened if we learn to trust one another. This is call to all of us, regardless of how hard we fought for each side, for the BOL or against it, to be united.
The BOL will serve as the blueprint for our future, and as we work together to build the structures, regulations, and governing bodies needed, we remain as steadfast to our cause as our forefathers were four decades ago.
There are no more #YesToBOL or #NoToBOL supporters. Today, and for the generations to come, there will be only one Bangsamoro, and we must serve to build it.