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Comelec expands BOL vote coverage

Poll body allows 20 Cotabato villages to join plebiscite for Bangsamoro region
/ 05:15 AM January 04, 2019

BANGSAMORO FUTURE A group of Maranao women awaits the arrival of Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chair Murad Ebrahim in Marawi City for a forum on the Bangsamoro Organic Law, a measure that will chart the future of Muslim Mindanao. —RICHEL V. UMEL

COTABATO CITY—Of the 45 villages in North Cotabato province that opted to take part in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite, only 20 had been allowed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to join the exercise on Feb. 6.

Taher Guiambangan Solaiman, chair of the North Cotabato Composite Team of Civil Society Organizations (NCCT-CSO), said the poll body approved the petitions of 20 local governments in the province to participate in the plebiscite to ratify Republic Act No. 11054, or the BOL.

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In a resolution issued on Dec. 20, the Comelec found the 20 villages to have complied with the requirements and established that their territories are contiguous to that of the local governments covered by the BOL.

Barangay resolutions

These villages included Libungan Torreta, Pangankalan, Datu Mantil and Simsiman in Pigcawayan town; Rajahmuda, Barungis, Gli-Gli, Nalapaan, Panicupan, Bualan, Nabundas, Nunguan, Manaulanan and Bulol in Pikit town; Pebpoluan, Kibayao, Kitulaan, Tupig and Langogan in Carmen town; and Pangan in Aleosan town.

Solaiman said 45 approved barangay resolutions and petitions seeking inclusion in the new political entity had been sent to the Comelec. The petitioners were local government officials and residents.

“So far, not a single resolution/petition for voluntary inclusion from the municipalities of Midsayap, Kabacan and Matalam was granted,” Solaiman said.

He said villages in Pigcawayan had six resolutions for inclusion but only four were approved by the Comelec. Pikit had sent 19 resolutions but only 10 were approved. Carmen had seven resolutions but only five villages were allowed to participate in the plebiscite.

Autonomous region

Solaiman said the status of petitions filed by other villages remained unknown. “Those not included in the list are either denied or are still subject to hearings by the Comelec,” he said.

Residents in five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela will vote on Jan. 21 while those in six towns in Lanao del Norte province, 39 villages in North Cotabato and other local governments, whose petitions for inclusion were approved, will vote on Feb. 6.

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The fate of the towns and villages identified in the BOL to form part of the new political entity will depend not only on voters in these areas but also on voters in their mother units.

In the case of Lanao del Norte, voters in the towns of Balo-i, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal will vote on Feb. 6.

However, voters in 16 other towns of Lanao del Norte will also be asked if they will agree that the six towns should form part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The same applies to North Cotabato where voters in Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit and Pigcawayan will be asked if they will vote to include 39 villages and other local governments that have petitioned for inclusion in the BARMM.

If voters in 39 villages approve inclusion, they will be included in the BARMM only if majority of voters in six North Cotabato towns also agree.

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