OPAPP, COMELEC, BTC ink partnership on voter awareness on BOL plebiscite . Photo courtesy by PeaceGovPH

20 petitioning NoCot villages allowed to join BOL plebiscite

Cotabato City—The Commission on Elections has approved the petitions of 20 barangays in North Cotabato wanting to participate in the plebiscite to ratify Bangsamoro Organic Law on Feb. 6.

The Comelec has set the Jan. 21, 2019 plebiscite for voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao—the cities of Lamitan and Marawi, and provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan—and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, while Feb. 6 will be for voters in Lanao del Norte, six towns in North Cotabato and other areas that petitioned for inclusion in the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Earlier, 44 other villages in North Cotabato petitioned for inclusion in the Bangsamoro entity but only 20 villages were approved so far by the Comelec to join the plebiscite.

Taher Guiambangan Solaiman, chairperson of North Cotabato Composite Team of Civil Society Organizations said the poll body, in its 50-page Omnibus Resolution promulgated in an en banc session on Dec. 20, found out that 20 petitioner-villages “have complied with all of the requirements under the law and the rules and have sufficiently established that its territory is contiguous to that of the local government units enumerated in Section 2 (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e), Article III of the BOL.”

The 20 petitioning North Cotabato villages approved to join the plebiscite are Libungan Torreta, Pangankalan, Datu Mantil, and Simsiman, all in Pigcawayan town; Rajahmuda, Barungis, Gli-Gli, Nalapaan, Panicupan, Bualan, Nabundas, Nunguan, Manaulanan, and Bulol, all in Pikit; Pebpoluan, Kibayao, Kitulaan, Tupig, and Langogan, all in Carmen; and Pagangan in Aleosan.

Solaiman said the petitioners were local government units, which, through village resolutions, had prayed that they be allowed to participate in the plebiscite.

 “So far, not a single resolution/petition for voluntary inclusion from the municipalities of Midsayap, Kabacan, and Matalam was granted,” Solaiman added.

He said Pigcawayan villages had six resolutions for inclusion but only four were approved by Comelec while in Pikit, 19 resolutions were forwarded but only 10 were approved.

Carmen town had seven resolutions and five were allowed to participate in the referendum. Aleosan town had only one resolution and was fortunately approved, Solaiman said.

Solaiman recalled that 44 Muslim-dominated villages in North Cotabato have passed resolutions for inclusion and forwarded them to the Comelec’s clerk of court on Oct. 31 and Nov. 5, 2018. Solaiman said the fate of the remaining villages is unknown at this time. 

“Those not included in the list here are either denied or are still subject to hearings by the Comelec,” he said.