Moro lawmaker wants Cotabato City as capital of BARMM
COTABATO CITY – The author of the House version of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is eyeing to sponsor a proposed measure that would name this city as capital of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The first day of plebiscite for the ratification of BOL, which would establish BARMM to replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), was conducted January 21.
Maguindanao 1st Dist. Rep. Bai Sandra Sema told a news conference Wednesday that she will file the bill once the Commission on Elections (Comelec) officially declares the results of Monday’s BOL referendum.
Cotabato City, which is under Administrative Region 12, had been the host of ARMM regional government since 1990. Twice, in 1989 and 2001, it rejected joining the autonomous government set up.
During Monday’s plebiscite, voters in Cotabato City were asked if they favor the inclusion of the city to BARMM, a new political entity to be created as a product of the government’s peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Unofficial count showed “yes” votes garnered 36,682 while “no” votes got 24,994.
Still basing on unofficial results, Comelec said 59 percent or 61,676 of 113,751 voters participated in Monday’s BOL plebiscite.
Sema is seeking the mayoralty post of Cotabato City against incumbent Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi in this year’s midterm elections. Sayadi campaigned for the exclusion of Cotabato City from BARMM.
The historical plebiscite had pitted Bangsamoro against Bangsamoro with social media as their new battle ground.
Harsh words and accusations filled Facebook accounts of Cotabato City residents — between pro- and anti-BOL.
But messages of reconciliation also filled social media pages of locals after the first day of plebiscite although results remain unofficial.
“Let’s move forward, the divisive election was over, at the end of the day we are all Bangsamoro, extend hand of peace to our Christian and IP brothers and sisters,” said Kassan Hassan Ali on his Facebook page.
Sammy Gambar, head of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, an MILF political arm, said he has nothing against Sayadi campaigning against BOL.
“She is my niece, we have no quarrel,” Gambar said in a statement.
Mohaqher Iqbal of the MILF, meanwhile, said: “Those who voted for Yes and No are now one and united let us move on.”
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu also called on all Bangsamoro to unite anew after the divisive plebiscite.
“Let’s move on, the plebiscite was just an electoral process,” he said in his social media posts.
“I will reach out to ‘NO to BOL’ proponents. Islam is a faith that espouses democratic processes and it teaches us sportsmanship and magnanimity in victory. Let’s move on as one big family,” added Mangudadatu, who fervently campaigned in favor of BOL in his province.
In Maguindanao, 433,273 residents voted “yes” while only 15,990 voted “no” to BOL.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body will officially announce the results of the January 21 BOL plebiscite in Manila in the coming days.
The second round of BOL plebiscite will take place on February 6 in six towns of Lanao del Sur and 39 villages of North Cotabato. /kga
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