Lanao del Norte rejects BOL; North Cotabato villages vote yes

John Unson - The Philippine Star
Lanao del Norte rejects BOL; North Cotabato villages vote yes
However, 61 barangays in the seven towns in North Cotabato voted yes to be included in the BARMM following last Wednesday’s plebiscite.
Boy Santos / File

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines — The entire province of Lanao del Norte voted against the inclusion of its six municipalities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

However, 61 barangays in the seven towns in North Cotabato voted yes to be included in the BARMM following last Wednesday’s plebiscite.

These were the unofficial results obtained yesterday from the provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The barangays in seven towns of North Cotabato – Midsayap, Aleosan, Pikit, Kabacan, Carmen, Tulunan and Pigcawayan – are enclaves of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Plebiscite results also revealed voters in the towns of Aleosan and Tulunan voted against being included in the BARMM.

Maugan Mosaid, municipal administrator of Pikit, said the plebiscite was held in 23 of the 42 barangays in their municipality, resulting in the inclusion of 22 barangays into BARMM’s territory.

But residents in Barangay Balatican on the outskirts of Pikit voted against, leaving their village still under control of the municipal government of Pikit.

On the other hand, residents of the six towns in Lanao del Norte – Balo-i, Pantar, Tagoloan, Munai, Tangkal and Nunungan – voted against their inclusion in the BARMM.

The Comelec said the canvassing was based on results with a voter turnout of 63 percent, with the municipality of Linamon yet to submit its tabulation.

The municipalities of Pantao Ragat, Poona Piagapo and Salvador voted yes.

However, the total partial unofficial province-wide result showed an overwhelming no vote for its inclusion.

Lanao del Norte has 22 municipalities and the law provides that the entire province, as mother local government unit, should vote as one in the plebiscite.

Meanwhile, the Comelec in Manila yesterday decided to defer the official canvassing of votes for the second round of plebiscite of additional areas under the new BARMM.

Sitting as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (NPBoC), the seven-member poll body ordered the resetting of the official canvassing on Monday.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas adjourned the session shortly after reconvening since there are still no certificates of canvass (COCs) to be canvassed.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said COCs from the areas covered by the second round of plebiscite are expected to arrive in Manila over the weekend.

Jimenez said a reception committee at the Comelec main office in Intramuros will receive and safeguard the certificates of canvass.

Respect the will

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday called  on everyone to respect the results of the second round of plebiscite.

“Whatever the results will be, I call on everyone to respect the sovereign will of the people. Let us wholeheartedly accept it and move on. The recent political exercise may have strained some relationships but we believe this is something we can mend peacefully,” Galvez said.

With the culmination of the plebiscite, Galvez urged the pooling of all needed support to ensure the smooth transition from the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the BARMM.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman earlier gave assurance they are ready and working for the smooth transition of government.

“The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) has been ratified. The area of coverage of the new autonomous region has been expanded,” Galvez said.

As this developed, the provincial government of Maguindanao has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to uphold the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 11054 or the BOL, citing the overwhelming vote for its ratification in the plebiscite.

In a comment-in-intervention filed last Wednesday, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu asked the high court to dismiss the petitions filed by the Sulu provincial government led by Gov. Abdusakur Tan II and the Philippine Constitutional Association (Philconsa) seeking to nullify the law expanding the ARMM to become a Bangsamoro autonomous region.

Mangudadatu said the results of the plebiscite in the ARMM conducted last Jan. 21 showed 1,595,731 residents voting to ratify the BOL as against 246,185 who voted against it – a margin of over 1.25 million votes.

“The sovereign voice of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (has) clearly spoken. Under the principle of vox populi suprema est lex (the voice of the people should be the supreme law), we implore the Honorable Court to abide by the solemn duty to uphold the clear and unmistakable mandate of the people,” read the 78-page pleading.

Mangudadatu supported the argument of the solicitor general that the BOL does not violate Article X, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, which authorized only one Organic Act to establish the ARMM.

He argued the Organic Act is a “statute” that may be amended or repealed by Congress upon approval by the people in a plebiscite.

Mangudadatu also rebutted the contention of petitioners that the BOL violates the doctrine of separation of powers under the Constitution as it adopts a parliamentary system of government.

“A parliamentary form of government should be viewed as consistent with the policy of local autonomy which, although encourages a closer relationship and more avenues for blending of powers between the executive and the legislative branches, does not actually sanction a complete fusion that would be tantamount to a violation of the constitutional parameters,” he pointed out.

Mangudadatu also said the SC has no jurisdiction to review it through the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioners “because there is no actual case or controversy but also because there is no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the executive and legislative departments as would justify the assumption of jurisdiction by the Honorable Supreme Court.”

With these arguments, Mangudadatu asked the SC to declare the BOL as constitutional. – With Lino dela Cruz, Edu Punay, Roel Pareño




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