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Voters favor creation of 8 Bangsamoro towns in Cotabato province

John Unson - Philstar.com
Voters favor creation of 8 Bangsamoro towns in Cotabato province
Voters in one of the 63 Bangsamoro barangays in Cotabato province in Region 12 wait for their turns to cast votes during Saturday’s plebiscite for the creation of eight municipalities that shall cover their domains, grouped together as the autonomous region's Special Geographic Area.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — More than three-fourths of the 89,594 registered voters in 63 Bangsamoro barangays in Cotabato province in Region 12 voted in favor of proposals to create eight municipalities covering their domains during a plebiscite on Saturday.

Officials of the Commission on Elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao told reporters here on Sunday that 81.1%, or 72,658 of the 89,594 voters in the 63 barangays consented to the bills passed last year by the BARMM regional assembly, as enabling measures for the creation of the Pahamudin, Kadayangan, Nabalawag, Old Kaabacan, Kapalawan, Malidegao, Tugunan and Ligawasan municipalities.

“It was a successful, historic, peaceful plebiscite,” Mayla Luna Bayao, Cotabato provincial election officer, said on Sunday morning.

Brig. Gen. Prexy Tanggawohn, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and his counterpart in Region 12, Brig. Gen. Augustus Placer, separately confirmed on Sunday the statistics released by Comelec employees in Cotabato province and in BARMM.

Tanggawohn and Placer on Saturday toured in many of the 63 barangays, grouped together as BARMM’s Special Geographic Area, or SGA, to oversee the plebiscite security missions of units under them, mobilized to help the Comelec administer the exercise, the last requisite for the creation of the eight municipalities.

Residents of the 63 SGA barangays in different towns in Cotabato, one of the four provinces under Administrative Region 12, voted for the inclusion of their barangays into the proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro region in a referendum in early 2019 that led to the replacement of the then 27-year and now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a more administratively and politically empowered BARMM.

BARMM is a product of more than 20 years of peace talks between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose chairman, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, is an appointed chief minister of the now four-year Bangsamoro government.

Two members of the 80-seat BARMM parliament, Mohammad Kellie Antao and the physician-ophthalmologist Kadil Sinolinding Jr., who both have extensive humanitarian projects in the 63 SGA barangays, told reporters they were elated with the outcome of Saturday’s plebiscite that resulted in the ratification of the proposed enabling measures for the creation of the Pahamudin, Kadayangan, Nabalawag, Old Kaabacan, Kapalawan, Malidegao, Tugunan and Ligawasan municipalities.

The 63 barangays that the eight municipalities are to cover are known bastions of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front that have separate peace compacts with Malacanang and whose leaders are now together overseeing the operations of the BARMM government.

“The creation of these new eight Bangsamoro municipalities to be covered by the Bangsamoro government, but are inside a province under an administrative region, shall be an added chapter to the long story about the peace process between the national government and the Moro people that started more than three decades ago,” Sinolinding said.

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BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO

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