By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Lanao del Norte voted has rejected the inclusion of six constituent towns in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) while North Cotabato voted “Yes” for the inclusion of 61 constituent barangays (villages) in the BARMM in Wednesday’s second plebiscite on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL)..
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. urged the public, notably the people of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato to respect the result of the plebiscite and move on to help ensure the success of the implementation of BOL or Republic Act No. 11054.
Despite some minor glitches between opposing camps in Lanao del Norte, the conduct of the plebiscite in the two provinces was generally peaceful and successful, Sec. Galvez said.
“This is a victory for all of us. The recent political exercise may have strained some relationships but we believe this is something we can mend peacefully,” he said.
According to the provincial board of canvassers (PBC), majority of the voters in Nunungan, Balo-i, Pantar, Tagoloan, Munai and Tangkal voted for inclusion in BARMM but their decision was superseded by the provincial electorate in the double majority count in the plebiscite.
A breakdown of the provincial tally showed: Balo-i – 8,553 Yes / 3,038 No (province: 73,164 Yes / 154,553 No); Munai – 10,765 Yes / 0 No (province – 71,148 Yes / 158,025 No); Nunungan – 1,802 Yes / 1,004 No (province – 79,935 Yes / 156,630 No); Pantar – 7,840 Yes / 256 No (province – 73,992 Yes / 157,705 No); Tagoloan -2,760 Yes / 1,373 No (province 78,849 Yes / 156,605 No); and Tangkal – 6,276 Yes / 0 No (province 75,364 Yes / 157,417 No)
In North Cotabato, 67 villages in seven constituent towns of Pigcawayan, Midsayap, Pikit, Aleosan, Carmen, Tulunan and Kabacan voted for inclusion in BARMM, but only 61 barangays made it to the double majority vote-count in the February 6 plebiscite.
The municipal electorates of Tulunan and Aleosan superseded the approval votes of their five component villages in the plebiscite.
The BOL proposed 39 villages in Pigcawayan, Midsayap, Pikit, Aleosan, Carmen, and Kabacan towns for inclusion in the BARMM territory, but 28 other villages in Pikit and Tulunan petitioned for inclusion. Their petitions were approved by the Commission on Elections.
The BOL was overwhelmingly ratified in the first plebiscite on Jan. 21 by the electorate of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) comprising the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur including Marawi City, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan, including Lamitan City.
The cities of Cotabato and Isabela in Basilan were also covered by the January 21 plebiscite. Cotabato City voted to be part of BARMM, but Isabela City rejected its inclusion.
The results of the two plebiscites mean that BARMM will officially cover the entire ARMM, Cotabato City and the 61 villages in North Cotabato.
The creation of BARMM is prescribed under the BOL, which the 17th Congress and President Rodrigo Duterte enacted into law in July last year pursuant mainly to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) with the government.
After the conduct of the two plebiscites, the next process would be the creation by the President of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that will administer the initial operations of BARMM until 2022, during which an election for the regular officials of the new autonomous governance will be held.
The MILF has submitted a list of 41 nominees to the proposed BTA. They include MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim, Vice Chairmen Ghazali Jaafar and Mohagher Iqbal, alongside other members of the front’s central committee as well as representatives from other sectors including the Moro National Liberation Front.
During the BTA operation, the MILF is expected to continue its stalled decommissioning process of its armed force. Close to 150 MILF combatants were decommissioned in the first leg of the process, which was interrupted by the infamous 2015 Mamasapano, Maguindanao clash that left 44 Special Action Force commandos, 16 MILF men, and five civilians dead.
The bloody clash sparked a public outcry that prompted the 16th Congress to archive the then Bangsamoro Basic Law, the predecessor of BOL. (Ali G. Macabalang)