Dec. 7 to Jan. 19 is campaign period for Jan. 21, 2019 Bangsamoro plebiscite

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 Sept) — December 7 to January 19 is the campaign period for the January 21, 2019 plebiscite to ratify RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Commission on Elections said.

The designated campaign period is contained in Comelec’s Resolution 10425 on the Rules and Regulations governing the conduct of the plebiscite. The resolution was promulgated on September 26.

Voters in the proposed core territory of the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will troop to the polls on January 21, 2019 to ratify the law.

The proposed BARMM territory is composed of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) five provinces and two cities — Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan. Also proposed to be part of the core territory are the cities of Cotabato and Isabela in Basilan; the six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato that voted yes for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite for an expanded ARMM; and all 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 months prior to the plebiscite.

In the case of Lanao del Norte’s six towns and North Cotabato’s 39 barangays, their mother units — the province of Lanao del Norte and the six towns where the 39 barangays belong — will also vote in the plebiscite as the law provides that the consent of the mother units is needed for them to be part of the Bangsamoro.

Resolution 10425 lists down the questions to be asked of the voters.

In the ARMM, voters will be asked: “Are you in favor of the approval of Republic Act No. 11054, otherwise known as the ‘Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’?”

In Isabela City, Basilan, voters will be asked: “Are you in favor of the inclusion of Isabela City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?” while voters in the rest of Basilan will be asked two questions: the same question asked in the ARMM plus the question asked in Isabela.

Voters in Cotabato City will be asked: “Are you in favor of the inclusion of Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?”

Voters in all towns of Lanao del Norte will be asked if they are in favor of the inclusion of the six towns — Balo-i, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal — in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Voters in the six towns of North Cotabato – Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pigkawayan and Pikit – will be asked if they favor the inclusion of  39 barangays in the Bangsamoro:  Aleosan’s Dungguan, Lower Mingading and Tapodoc; Carmen’s Manarapan and Nasapian; Kabacan’s Nanga-an, Simbuhay and Sanggadong; Midsayap’s Damatulan, Kadigasan, Kadingilan, Kapinpilan, Kudarangan, Central Labas, Malingao, Mudseng, Nabalawag, Olandang, Sambulawan and Tugal; Pigkawayan’s Lower Baguer, Balacayon, Buricain, Datu Binasing, Kadingilan, Matilac, Patot and Lower Pangangkalan; and Pikit’s Bagoinged, Balatican, S. Balong, S. Balongis, Batulawan, Buliok, Gokotan, S. Kabasalan, S. Lagunde, Macabual and Macasendig.

Plebiscite questions will be translated into Filipino and Arabic. The Arabic translation will be used in areas where Arabic is of general use and shall be printed in the official ballot in addition to and immediately below the Filipino version.

Aside from the plebiscite questions, Resolution 10425 also provides for guidelines on the petition by a local government unit for voluntary inclusion; petition by at least 10% of the registered voters in a local government unit for inclusion; special registration of voters; accreditation of Citizens’ Arms of the Comelec for the plebiscite; information campaign; accreditation of domestic and international observers for the January 21, 2019 plebiscite; mass media accreditation; precincts and voting centers; and qualified voters and list of voters; and miscellaneous provisions.

The Education and Information Division of the Comelec is tasked to supervise the conduct of information campaigns on the plebiscite, “including sectoral campaigns for indigenous communities, women, youth, religious, professionals and public and private sector employees, in every barangay, municipality, city and province where the plebiscite is to be conducted. ”

The information dissemination campaigns of the Comelec “shall be without prejudice to the information dissemination and public advocacy initiatives by the other government or non-governmental groups or individuals.”

Article XV of RA 11054 provides that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which drafted the Bangsamoro law, will assist in the information campaign.

The Comelec resolution provides that ever barangay within the plebiscite areas shall hold at least one assembly or “pulong-pulong” during the campaign period, to enlighten the voters about the law.

A special registration of voters will be held  in Marawi City on October 1 to 15. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)