Heat seen to affect turnout for new BARMM towns plebiscite

Heat feared to affect turnout for new BARMM towns plebiscite

/ 02:51 PM April 12, 2024

Heat feared to affect turnout for new BARMM towns plebiscite

FILE PHOTO: The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) seat of government is located in Cotabato City. Photo by Bong Sarmiento

COTABATO CITY — The prevailing extreme heat affecting Mindanao will be a major challenge in the conduct of a plebiscite on Saturday in the Special Geographic Area (SGA) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

BARMM spokesperson Mohd Asnin Pendatun said although the regional government saw no major challenge in the upcoming plebiscite creating eight new towns from 63 villages that once belonged to Cotabato province, the heat could depress its turnout.


The heat index the past few days in Cotabato City and Cotabato province has been above 40 degrees Celsius.
Pendatun said they were expecting a 100-percent turnout by the SGA’s 89,594 registered voters.


“The excruciating heat brought about by El Niño could be a major factor whether we reach the target or not,” Pendatun said.

READ: Security measures in place for BARMM plebiscite

“I agree with Pendatun’s observation that the heat index plays a major role in the voters’ turnout,” lawyer Mula Luna-Bayao, Cotabato provincial election supervisor, said.

She said the poll body has already coordinated with health authorities “to help ensure our voters are comfortable on the balloting day.”

Despite that, Pendatun said the BARMM leadership remained hopeful of a high turnout and equally hopeful of a “Yes” vote.

“The ratification of eight laws creating new towns is part of the final picture, so to speak, in preparation for the first parliamentary elections in 2025,” Pendatun said, adding that “this will normalize the situation in the SGA where they will have appointed mayors, vice mayors and council members.”


READ: Comelec gearing up for peaceful, orderly BARMM plebiscite

The proposed municipalities are Phamuddin, Kadayangan, Nabalawag, Old Kaabakan, Kapalawan, Malidegao, Tiugnan and Ligwasan. These proposed towns are composed of 63 Muslim-dominated villages from the towns of Carmen, Kabacan, Pikit, Midsayap, and Pigcawayan in Cotabato province.
Luna-Bayao said voting would be manual.

“The plebiscite is manual, the counting is manual, the canvassing is manual,” she said.

Voting will be held in 67 voting centers hosting 189 clustered precincts. The villages that used to belong to Pikit town have the highest number of registered voters at 39,642.

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The regional government has earmarked about P80 million for the conduct of the plebiscite.

TAGS: BARMM plebiscite, Heat

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