Maguindanao sets aside P120-M for plebiscite to split province into two

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 15 July) – The province of Maguindanao has allotted P120 million for the plebiscite seeking to divide the territory into two provinces, Gov. Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu said.

Sangki-Mangudadatu said the provincial government received a letter from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) asking if Maguindanao can fund the expenses for the plebiscite.

Province of Maguindanao. Map courtesy of Google

“Maguindanao province is ready for the holding of the plebiscite. We have allocated funds from our internal revenue allotment. Our Sangguniang Panlalawigan had approved the funds for the plebiscite,” she said.

Sangki-Mangudadatu said she notified the Comelec of the availability of the funds to hold the plebiscite.

“We are waiting for the Comelec to set the date of the plebiscite,” she said in an interview with Radio Mindanao Network – Cotabato City.

She expressed confidence the plebiscite will push through.

Maguindanao Representatives Esmael Mangudadatu (second district) and Datu Roonie Sinsuat Sr. (first district) introduced House Bill 6314 that seeks to divide Maguindanao into two provinces.

Mangudadatu thanked his colleagues for approving the proposal and those who supported the measure in the Senate, including Senators Francis Tolentino, Juan Miguel Zubiri and Christopher Go.

Sukran (thank you) and may Allah bless and prosper our sincerest aspirations for the welfare and betterment of the people of Maguindanao,” Mangudadatu said earlier.

Last May 27, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11550 (An Act Dividing the Province of Maguindanao into Two Provinces, Namely: Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindano del Sur).

The Act, which shall take effect 15 days after its publication, was uploaded at the Official Gazette, the official journal of the Republic of the Philippines, also on May 27.

Article IX Section 48 of the Act states that Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur shall be created upon approval by the majority of the votes cast by the voters of the affected areas in a plebiscite to be conducted and supervised by the Comelec within 90 days from the date of the effectivity of this act.

Reckoning from the effectivity of the Act on June 11, the plebiscite should be held on or before September 9, 2021.

Under the law, Maguindanao province shall bear the expenses for the conduct of the plebiscite.

The law states that if the majority approves the division, Maguindanao del Norte shall be composed of the towns of Barira, Buldon, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Dayu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Northern Kabuntalan, Parang, North Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura and Talitay.

The designated capital town and seat of government for Maguindanao del Norte is Datu Odin Sinsuat. Cotabato City shall be part of this province.

For Maguindanao del Sur, it shall cover the towns of Ampatuan, Buluan, Datu Abdulla Sangki, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Datu Montawal, Datu Paglas, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Guindulungan, Mamasapano, Mangudadatu, Pagalungan, Paglat, Pandag, Rajah Buayan, Sharif Aguak, Sharif Saydona Mustafa, Sultan sa Barongis, Talayan and South Upi.

Its designated capital town and seat of government is Buluan.

According to the 2019 Comelec data, Maguindanao has 652,414 registered voters. It is populated by about 1.2 million people. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)