By Leslie Ann Aquino
Eight more petitions of barangays in North Cotabato seeking to be included in the referendum for the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has been approved by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
These were Barangays Pamalian and Fort Pikit in Pikit; Galidan in Tulunan; Tumbras in Midsayap; and Pedtad, Buluan, Simone, Tamped in Kabacan.
The Comelec en banc had earlier granted 20 petitions as they have complied with all of the requirements under the law and the rules and have sufficiently established that its territory is contiguous to that of the local government units.
The 20 approved petitions came from Barangays Libungan Torreta, Upper Pangankalan, Datu Mantil, and Simsiman in Pigcawayan; Barangay Pagangan in Aleosan; and Barangays Langogan, Pebpoloan, Kibayao, Kotulaan, and Tupig in Carmen.
Also approved were petitions from Barangays Rajahmuda, Barungis, Gli-gli, Nalapaan, Palicupan, Nunguan, Manaulanan, Bulol, Bualan, and Nabundas, all in Pikit.
“Some were not included because of considerations. First of all, whether or not they are actually contiguous. But, in general, what we are looking is failure to meet the requirements. In some cases, some places that petitioned actually submitted none of the requirements at all just what amounted essentially to an expression of their intent to participate in the plebiscite…so they were not included,” Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said in a press briefing, in Manila, Friday.
“In other cases they just absolutely had no contiguous border with existing territories so those had to be denied,” he added.
More than 100 petitions were filed at the poll body for voluntary inclusion in the Bangsamoro plebiscite.
Earlier, the COMELEC said areas contiguous to any of the Bangsamoro core areas may ask for voluntary inclusion in the plebiscite, by either the local government of such an area filing a resolution; or at least 10 percent of the registered voters in a local government unit filing a petition and ask for inclusion in the plebiscite.
The plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) will be conducted in two separate days on January 21 and February 6, 2019.
The poll body said the January 21 plebiscite will be conducted in areas comprising the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), as well as Isabela City in Basilan, and Cotabato City.
For the province of Lanao del Norte, except Iligan City; the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit, and Pigkawayan in the province of North Cotabato; and all other areas contiguous to any of the Bangsamoro core areas where: the local government of such area, by way of a resolution, asked for inclusion in the plebiscite; or at least 10 percent of the registered voters in a local government unit, by way of a petition, asked for inclusion in the plebiscite, the plebiscite will be held on February 6.