UBJP backs split of Maguindanao province

COTABATO CITY - The United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) declared on Saturday its full support to the proposed division of the province of Maguindanao into two provinces. 
Mohagher Iqbal, UBJP vice president for Central Mindanao and Member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament, urged the members and officers of the party to give their all-out support and vote ‘yes’ come Sept. 17, the day set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the electorate to decide on the question of splitting the province into Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte.

Iqbal said "dividing the province will bring the government closer to the people."

"I hope those who will be appointed as officials of the would-be provinces of Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte will serve the people well," said Iqbal, who is also the minister of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). 

Iqbal called on the people and the leaders of various political groups to work together to ensure clean, honest, and orderly plebiscite. 

He also challenged them to ensure that the political playing field is levelled and is ready for the first parliamentary elections in the BARMM in 2025. 

"Let the people vote freely and count their votes honestly so that real democracy starts to take root in the region," Iqbal stressed.

Then President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Republic Act No. 11550 on May 27, 2021 which provides that the majority of the residents must approve the creation of the two provinces in a plebiscite to be conducted by the Comelec. 

In accordance the Republic Act No. 11550, Maguindanao del Norte will be composed of the municipalities of Barira, Buldon, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Northern Kabuntalan, Parang, North Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Talitay. The seat of government is Datu Odin Sinsuat.

While Maguindanao del Sur will comprise the municipalities 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, and its seat of government is Buluan.

The province of Maguindanao used to be part of the then empire Province of Cotabato that included the present provinces of Cotabato (the mother province), Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, and the cities of General Santos and Cotabato.

Once the RA 11550 is ratified, “the incumbent governor of the present province of Maguindanao shall remain as governor of the province of Maguindanao del Sur” while the vice governor will serve as the acting governor of Maguindanao del Norte. 

The incumbent members of the provincial board elected last May will continue to serve in the new province where their legislative districts belong. 

To fill the vacant seats, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will appoint additional board members from among the qualified residents of the province.