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Comelec sets plebiscite for BOL on Jan. 21, 2019

/ 10:05 AM September 05, 2018

Updated @ 11:21 p.m., Sept. 5, 2018

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has scheduled the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on Jan. 21, 2019.

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In a statement issued on Wednesday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said special registration activities would be conducted in the Bangsamoro “core territories” from Sept. 11 to 13, 2018.

The campaign period will begin on Dec. 7 and end on Jan. 19, 2019, he said.

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The plebiscite period, meanwhile, will run from Dec. 7, 2018 to Feb. 5, 2019, Jimenez said.

On July 27 this year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11054, or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which creates the region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The law, which grants self-rule and autonomy for the Muslim south, has for years been a crucial missing element to a languishing peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which, along with other groups, has waged a rebellion that has claimed about 150,000 lives since the 1970s.

The BARMM would be composed of the current provinces of ARMM, six towns in Lanao del Norte province, 39 barangay in North Cotabato province, Cotabato City as well as Isabela City in Basilan province.

But the six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangay in North Cotabato will be allowed to join the BARMM only if their “mother units”—cities or provinces—also agree to it in a plebiscite.

Among the powers given to the Bangsamoro government are the budget, education, fisheries, health, housing, labor and land reform and use.

Ballot printing

In Marawi City, the Comelec on Wednesday assured it was ready to hold the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in the Lanao del Sur provincial capital on Sept. 22.

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“Percentage-wise, we are already 95 percent prepared. So, all preparations are already in place,” Teopisto Elnas, Comelec project director for Marawi elections, said in a press conference at the National Printing Office (NPO).

The Comelec on Wednesday began printing the 76,384 official ballots at the NPO.

Also up for printing are 354 sets of election returns or 177 sets each for barangay and SK votes.

The village and youth council elections in Marawi was rescheduled as the city had yet to recover from the devastation as a result of the five-month fighting between government troops and Islamic State-inspired fighters led by the Maute terror group last year.

Security preparation

Elnas said the Comelec was closely coordinating with the police and the military for security preparations in the village and youth polls.

“So far, we have not received any intelligence reports of threat as far as Marawi is concerned. But we will still beef up our security to the point of saturating every voting center,” he said.

Comelec spokesperson Jimenez said 234 filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) for barangay chair while another 862 were running for barangay kagawad (council member).

He said 162 COCs were filed for SK chair while 193 for SK kagawad.

“We had our concerns that only a few will file COCs. But we do not have any barangay with zero candidates,” said Jimenez.

The Comelec has also identified the alternative voting centers, where voters from villages within ground zero, or the area most affected by the fighting last year, will cast their votes.

These include the Multi-Purpose Hall in Area 4, Barangay Sagonsongan; Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School and Dansalan Integrated School in Area 2, Barangay Sagonsongan; Bito Elementary School in Barangay Bito Buadi Parba; Rorogagus Elementary School in Barangay Rorogagus Proper; and Calocan Elementary School East District in Barangay Calocan East.

According to the Comelec, 15,096 registered voters in 27 villages are set to vote in 51 clustered precincts in the alternative voting centers. —With a report from Inquirer Research

/muf /pdi /atm

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Organic Law, BARMM, BOL, Comelec, Plebiscite
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