Bangsamoro plebiscite set for January 21

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 Sept) — The plebiscite to ratify RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), has been set for January 21, 2019, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said.

The 45-day campaign period begins on December 7 and will end on January 19, according to a memorandum issued August 31 by Bartolome Sinocruz, Jr. Comelec Deputy Executive Director for Operations, addressed to the Comelec directors of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) and Region 12 (Southwestern Mindanao, also referred to as Soccsksargen).

RA 11054, the enabling law of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed by government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014, provides that the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) “and the determination of its territorial jurisdiction” shall take effect upon ratification in a plebiscite.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte poses for a photo with the legislators and negotiators in the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as well as top officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police during the presentation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) to the MILF at Malacañan Palace on August 6, 2018. Richard Madelo/Presidential Photo

Once ratified, the ARMM is deemed abolished and the BARMM will take over, initially through the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) that President Duterte will appoint. The BTA, which will be MILF-led, will govern the area until the election of the first set of officials in May 2022.

The proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) comprises the ARMM’s Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan; the six towns in Lanao del Norte that voted yes to inclusion in the ARMM in 2001: Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan, and Tangkal; and the 39 barangays in the towns of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pigcawayan and Pikit in North Cotabato that also voted yes to inclusion in the ARMM in 2001.

Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato are under Region 10 and 12, respectively.  In both provinces, the mother units — the province of Lanao del Norte and the six towns in North cotabato —  are to vote also if it will allow these areas to be part of the BARMM.

Also part of the proposed core territory are Cotabato City, the present seat of the ARMM, and Isabela City in Basilan. Both cities voted against inclusion in the supposed expanded ARMM in 2001.

Also taking part in the plebiscite are voters in “other contiguous areas where a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the registered voters in the area seeks for their inclusion at least two (2) months prior to the conduct of the ratification of this Organic Law.”

Sinocruz’ memorandum on the “pertinent dates for the conduct of the Bangsamoro plebiscite” was addressed to ARMM Comelec director Ray Sumalipao, Region 10 director Renato Magbutay, and Michael Abas of Region 12.

Sinocruz said the Comelec en banc meeting on August 29 resolved that the date of the conduct of the plebiscite to ratify RA 11054 shall be on January 21, that the plebiscite period shall be from December 7, 2018 to February 5, 2019, and the campaign period will be from December 7, 2018 to January 19, 2019.

A three-day special satellite registration in the proposed Bangsamoro core territories has been approved and set for September 11 -13,” Sinocruz’ memorandum said.

No copy or number of the Comelec resolution was cited but Sinocruz said copy of the resolution will be sent to the regional directors “soonest.”

Posted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission on its FB page on 04 Sept 2018

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body that drafted what was earlier referred to as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, posted Sinocruz’ memorandum on its Facebook page.

MindaNews checked the Comelec website and Facebook page but the resolution on the Bangsamoro plebiscite as well as its calendar of activities have yet to be uploaded.

MindaNews also asked Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez about the resolution but as of 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jimenez had yet to reply. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)