Low voter turnout reported in early hours of Maguindanao split plebiscite
Maguindanao split plebiscite: Low early voter turnout reported
COTABATO CITY – A low voter turnout for the plebiscite to divide Maguindanao into two provinces has been observed Saturday morning by an election watchdog.
Photos by the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), which is monitoring the political exercise, showed that only a few voters went to the polling centers to cast their votes on whether or not to ratify Republic Act (RA) No. 11550 that provides for the creation of Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur out of the current province.
At around 7:30 a.m. Namfrel national chairman Lito Averia visited an almost empty precinct in Datu Odin Sinsuat town.
By past 8 a.m., an almost similar scene greeted him at the Datu Luminog Mangelen Pilot Elementary School in Buluan town, the province’s seat of government.
Over 800,000 people are eligible to cast their votes which could redraw the political landscape of the conflict-torn province that is a stronghold of the erstwhile secessionist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The MILF, through its political arm, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, has endorsed the province’s split and urged its members and supporters to ratify RA 11550.
Should the province be split into two, incumbent Gov. Bai Mariam Mangudadatu, the province’s first woman governor, would be the last governor of an undivided Maguindanao.
She will them serve as governor of Maguindanao del Sur, whoch will be made up of 24 towns, while incumbent Vice Gov. Ainee Sinsuat would be the first governor of Maguindanao del Norte which will be composed of 12 towns.