2019 Bangsamoro Autonomous Region creation plebiscite
This article documents a current plebiscite. Information may change rapidly as the plebiscite progresses, until official results have been published. Initial news reports may be unreliable, and the last updates to this article may not reflect the most current information. (January 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This article needs to be updated.February 2019)(
|2019 Bangsamoro Autonomous Region creation plebiscite|
|Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) Plebiscite|
|Date||January 21 and February 6, 2019|
|Figures above only show votes for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and excludes votes to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR).|
Map shows the results of the first round of the plebiscite. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao voted for the ratification of the BOL, and Cotabato City (inset) voted for the inclusion to the BAR while Isabela City in Basilan voted against. Note that voters in the rest of Basilan had to consent for Isabela to be included in the BAR aside from voters in Isabela itself. Results are unofficial results.
The 2019 Bangsamoro Autonomous Region creation plebiscite was a two-part plebiscite to decide on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the Philippines, serving to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as well as the scope of the said region.
Under the organic law, the government would have to hold the plebiscite not more than 150 days from the signing of the BOL into law (July 26, 2018) but not earlier than 90 days from the law's signing. The first part of the plebiscite was held on January 21 where voters from the ARMM voted in regards of the BOL's ratification and residents of Cotabato City and Isabela, Basilan voted for or against their cities' inclusion to the proposed region. The second part was held on February 6 to potentially expand the BARMM; with voters from six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and 67 barangays in Cotabato province voting for or against their localities' inclusion to the BARMM.
The Commission on Elections announced on January 25, 2019 that the BOL was "deemed ratified" after results in the first part of the plebiscite showed majority support for the law's ratification. The election body also officially announced that majority of voters in Cotabato City voted in favor of joining the proposed autonomous region while voters of Isabela City in Basilan rejected their inclusion. During the February 6 referendum, however, 63 of the 67 Cotabato barangays and 9 of 22 towns in Lanao del Norte saw voters in favor of joining the new region. Despite the fact that the six municipalities in Lanao del Norte which petitioned to join were among the 9 voting in favor of inclusion, a majority of support was required from not only from voters in the individual municipality, but also from voters throughout the rest of the province as well. As a result, no municipality in Lanao del Norte would join the autonomous region. All of the barangays in Cotabato province which saw voters vote in favor of joining, however, will join the new region.
- 1 Scope
- 2 Preparations
- 3 Legal challenges
- 4 Opinion polling
- 5 Results
- 5.1 Ratification of the BOL
- 5.2 Inclusion to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region
- 5.2.1 Cotabato City and Isabela, Basilan
- 5.2.2 Municipalities in Lanao del Norte
- 5.2.3 Barangays in North Cotabato
- 22.214.171.124 BARMM Core Territory
- 126.96.36.199 Approved petitioning barangays
- 188.8.131.52 Summary
- 6 Reactions to the results
- 7 Aftermath
- 8 References
- 9 See also
Bangsamoro 'core' territory
Voters in localities referred to as the core territory of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region are eligible to participate in the plebiscite. The core territory covers:
- Current territory of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
- Isabela City in Basilan
- Cotabato City
- 6 municipalities in Lanao del Norte (*) — Nunungan, Tangcal, Munai, Pantar, Balo-i and Tagoloan
- 39 barangays in North Cotabato (*)
- Aleosan (3) — Dunguan, Lower Mingading and Tapodoc
- Carmen (2) — Manarapan and Nasapian
- Kabacan (3) — Nanga-an, Simbuhay and Sanggadong
- Midsayap (12) — Damatulan, Kadigasan, Kadingilan, Kapinpilin, Kudarangan, Central Labas, Malingao, Mudseng, Nabalawag, Olandang, Sambulawan and Tugal
- Pigcawayan (8) — Lower Baguer, Balacayon, Buricain, Datu Binasing, Kadingilan, Matilac, Patot and Lower Pangangkalan
- Pikit (11) — Bangoinged, Balatican, S. Balong, S. Balongis, Batulawan, Buliok, Gokotan, Kabasalan, Lagunde, Macabual and Macasendeg
Voters in the whole provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato will also have to vote if they consent the localities' secession from their parent province to join the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
Additionally adjacent local government units bordering the localities above can opt for a voluntary inclusion in the plebiscite through their local governments or a petition by its registered voters. The Comelec has released guidelines regarding this concern on October 22, 2018 and gave local government units aspiring to participate in the plebiscite until October 31, 2018 to comply. Voters or the local government of the petitioning locality had to pay a ₱10,000 filing fee and a ₱100 research fee which were among the requirements imposed by the election body.
A total of 62 localities was initially announced to have made bids to participate in the plebiscite although not all of them are contiguous to the defined Bangsamoro core territory. 56 of these petitions were initiated by local governments while six were made by registered voters of the petitioning localities. The Comelec plans to decide on all of these petitions by mid-November 2018 and later moved their target to December 15, 2018. Due to the large number of petitions, December 7, 2018 the Comelec decided to schedule the planned plebiscite into two separate dates; on January 21 and February 6, 2019 since they concluded they won't be able to process all petitions by December 15 with localities with successful petitions taking part in the February vote.
A total of 103 petitions were filed but only 28 was accepted. Petitions which were not accepted either due to the petitioning locality not being adjacent to the defined core territory of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region or failure to submit sufficient requirements for their bid to get included in the plebiscite. Voters from the 28 accepted barangays will participate in the February polling.
Approved additional areas
By early January 2019, the Comelec has approved the petition of 20 barangays in North Cotabato and they will participate in the plebiscite. These barangays are:
- Aleosan (1) — Pagangan
- Carmen (5) — Pebpoluan, Kibayao, Kitulaan, Tupig, and Langogan
- Pigcawayan (4) — Libungan Torreta, Pangankalan, Datu Mantil, and Simsiman
- Pikit (10) — Rajahmuda, Barungis, Gli-Gli, Nalapaan, Panicupan, Bualan, Nabundas, Nunguan, Manaulanan, and Bulol
On January 11, 2019, the Comelec has announced the final list of additional participating localities for the plebiscite. The petitions of eight more barangays, all from North Cotabato, to join the plebiscite were approved by the election body.
- Pikit (2) — Pamalian and Fort Pikit
- Kabacan (4) — Pedtad, Buluan, Simone, and Tamped
- Midsayap (1) — Tumbras
- Tulunan (1) — Galidan
At least twelve localities in Zamboanga del Sur filed petition for their participation in the plebiscite. Three island barangays of Zamboanga City has also reportedly filed petition for their participation, a supposed move which was condemned by city mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco. The barangay captains of the three Zamboanga City barangays later denied filing petitions.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has conducted a three-day satellite voter registration in select venues in the constituent provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as well as in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato, and in the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, Basilan from September 11 to 13, 2018. Alongside with voter's registration, residents were able to transfer, reactivate, or correct their registration, as well as have their records included or reinstated. Those who have registered for the most recent barangay and Sanggunian Kabataan elections were not required to undergo the registration process. 15 satellites centers were set by the COMELEC, one of which was in a camp by the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who played a major part in the conception of the BOL. MILF members were also among those who registered for the plebiscite with some of them lacking government-issued IDs such as birth certificates. However their own identification documents issued by their group was accepted as valid IDs for the purpose of registration
The Comelec has recorded a total of 2,839,659 registered voters from 3,273 in certain areas in Mindanao. The election body is expecting 75% turn-out for the vote.
Campaign and plebiscite period
The campaign period for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region creation plebiscite began on December 7, 2018 and ended in January 19, 2019 while the plebiscite period is scheduled to cover December 7, 2018 to February 5, 2019. The voting for the plebiscite took place on January 21, 2019 as per an en banc decision by the Commission on Elections.
During the campaign period, a gun ban was imposed in localities which will be participating in the plebiscite. During the same period the following acts were also prohibited: establishment of a new voting precinct or alteration of the territory of an existing one will be prohibited; transfer or detail of officers and civil service employees; organization and maintenance of "strike forces" or similar entities; and the suspension of any elective public official from the barangay to the provincial level including as well as elective officials in independent cities.
The Comelec was also tasked to aid in holding information campaigns in every participating local government units as well as allow the conduct of information dissemination and public advocacy events by other government agencies, non-government organizations and private individuals in relation to the plebiscite. Every barangay was also directed to hold at least one assembly during the campaign period so that its constituents are informed regarding the BOL.
On January 6, 2019, a rally was organized in Jolo, Sulu as an expression of support to the ratification of the BOL which was attended by former Sulu governor Benjamin Loong as well as former and incumbent mayors of some of the towns of Sulu. Similar action is planned in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and other parts of Sulu.
There is also reluctance or opposition against the ratification of the BOL. ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman allayed concerns of Christian living in the city of Isabela in Basilan of potential marginalization if their city becomes part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region reasoning that the neigboring town of Lamitan has been govern by Christians despite being part of the ARMM. Hataman has also said that Christian practices such as fiestas and eating pork will not be made illegal if the BOL gets ratified contrary to what people against the legislation is saying in their campaign. Basilan Governor Jim Hataman on his part claims that the BOL is a "sure win" in his province.
The provincial government of Lanao del Norte is campaigning for a "No" vote since it opposes the inclusion of six of its municipalities in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Quibranza Dimaporo as well as her husband Abdullah and son Mohammad Khalid, who are both members of the House of Representatives leads the provincial government's campaign. Abdullah Makapaar, the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's North Western Mindanao Command who is also known as Commander Bravo, is campaigning for a "Yes" vote promising to double the salary of teachers and the establishment of orphanage centers in the province.
The crafting of the questions to be use in the plebiscite by the Comelec was already being finalized by mid-September 2018.
In October 2018, it was reported that in the defined core territories of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, voters will be asked to answer "Yes" or "No" if they approve the Bangsamoro Organic Law or not while in surrounding areas and non-core areas, voters will be presented a "two-folded" question.
The plebiscite question will be in Arabic and Filipino; both languages will be used in the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao areas while only Filipino will be used in the rest of the plebiscite's scope. No ballots with English questions was printed.
Voters in the existing ARMM will be only asked to answer one question:
- "Payag ba kayo na pagtibayin ang Batas Republika Blg.11054 na kilala din bilang "Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao"?
("Are you willing to adopt the Republic Act No. 11054 also known as "Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao"?)
- هل أنت توُد الموافقة على القرار الجمهورى رقم ١١٠٥٤ المعروف باسم: "القانون العضوى للحكم الذاتى امنطقة بانجسامورو فى مسلمى مينداناو".
- ("Are you willing to adopt the Republic Act No. 11054 also known as "Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao"?)
Voters in Basilan will also be asked whether if they wanted to include the city of Isabela in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in addition to the question above regarding their stance on the ratification of the BOL. The question will be presented as follows:
- "Payag ba kayo na isama ang lungsod Isabela, Basilan sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?"
("Are you willing to include the city of Isabela, Basilan in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region"?)
Plebiscite participants in the city of Isabela itself and Cotabato City will only answer one question; regarding if they favor their locality to be part of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region or not.
The Comelec held a simulation of the plebiscite on October 23, 2018 at its main office in Intramuros, Manila. Ballot printing started on December 7, 2018 and lasted for three days. Around 2.8 million ballots were printed. 
The plebiscite was originally planned to held at a single date on January 21, 2019. However the Comelec announced on December 7, 2018 that the plebiscite will be held in two separate days instead; on January 21 and February 6, 2019. The election body reasoned that the move was to allow the resolution of pending petitions for voluntary inclusion of additional local government units in the plebiscite.
Voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao including Cotabato City and Isabela City in Basilan will take part in the January 21 vote while the rest of the named participating localities in the BOL as well as additional localities which successfully petitioned for their inclusion will take part in the February 6 vote.
For both dates, the Comelec has allotted eight hours of voting. Voting will start at 8:00 a.m. (UTC+8) and will officially close at 3:00 p.m. Voters within 30 metres (98 ft) in front of the polling area will still be allowed to vote past 3:00 p.m. Voting will be manual with the ballot containing questions answerable by "yes" or "no" in English or its equivalent in Filipino or any other indigenous Philippine languages. Answers made with any other mark such as a check, a cross, or a thumb mark were not accepted as valid.
At least 25 international observers were permitted to oversee the plebiscite in order to establish credibility of the plebiscite. They are few restrictions and regulations imposed such as the requirement for the observer identify themselves to election authorities on ground and for them to provide copies of their report to the government. They are not allowed to interfere in the process of the plebiscite itself. Their report will also be used by the Comelec as reference to improve the process of future elections and plebiscites.
It is estimated that the plebiscite would require ₱857 million pesos. As of mid-September 2018, the proposed national budget for 2019 still does not include the budget for the January 2019 plebiscite.
In an event that the Congress fails to appropriate part of the 2019 national budget for the holding of the plebiscite, it was proposed that funds acquired by Comelec in the 2018 barangay elections be used to partially satisfy the financial needs of the plebiscite.
Governor Abdusakur Tan II, the provincial governor of Sulu questioned the constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Organic Law before the Supreme Court of the Philippines through a petition filed in October 2018. He asked the high court to rule the BOL as unconstitutional and for the stoppage of the planned plebicite. According to the petition, the BOL which seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is illegal citing a view that the Constitution provided for only one Organic act for the establishment of an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. It also argued that only Constitutional amendment can legally abolish the ARMM and not legislation by the Congress. It also questioned the provision that the ARMM would be considered as "one geographical area" for the purpose of the plebiscite as well as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's lead role in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to the prejudice of other Muslims who are affiliated with other rebel groups and non-Muslims.
The Philippine Constitutional Association (Philconsa) also filed a similar petition against the BOL while and intervention was filed by the Philippine Association of Islamic Accountants (PAIA) seeking for the dismissal of the two petitions filed by the Philconsa and the Sulu provincial government. The two petitions were ordered to be consolidated by the Supreme Court on January 8, 2019. Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen will handle the cases.
The International Alert (IA) conducted a survey in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 614 respondents aged 18-35 regarding their position in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region creation plebiscite. 89.4 percent of the IA survey reported that they will vote in favor of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law while 2.5 percent said that they will vote against the measure and the rest were unsure. However in the same survey, respondents in the Sulu archipelago were largely undecided whether to vote for and against the measure compared to their counterparts in mainland Mindanao.
Ratification of the BOL
On January 25, the Commission on Elections, as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers, declared the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law creating the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), after a majority of votes from the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) approved its creation.
|Registered voters and turnout||1,980,441||87.8|
|Source: Cruz, Ian (January 24, 2019). "ARMM votes yes to BOL, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region". GMA News. Retrieved January 25, 2019.|
"National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers Report No. 2" (PDF). Commission on Elections. National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
|Basilan (excluding Isabela)||147,598||95.78%||6,496||4.22%||154,094|
|Lanao del Sur||503,626||98.08%||9,816||1.91%||513,442|
On ratification of the BARMM from the then components of the ARMM, the entire ARMM voted as one; therefore, Sulu's rejection of the BARMM does not remove them from the BARMM.
Inclusion to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region
Cotabato City and Isabela, Basilan
Residents of Cotabato City and Isabela City, the latter of which is part of Basilan province but not the ARMM, voted on January 21 regarding their inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Isabela being a part of Basilan province, the residents of the other towns of Basilan had to consent if they were in favor of Isabela's potential inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
On January 25, the Commission on Elections, as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers, announced that voters in Cotabato City, an independent component city, voted in favor of inclusion in the BARMM. In Isabela City, majority of voters rejected their inclusion in the proposed BARMM while majority of voters in the rest of the province excluding Isabela agreed to the potential inclusion of the latter in the BARMM. Lacking a double majority, Isabela remains a part of the Zamboanga Peninsula region.
|Isabela City (Basilan)||19,032||45.89%||22,441||54.11%||41,473|
- Rest of Basilan
The other towns of Basilan will have to consent if they favor Isabela's inclusion to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
Basilan excluding Isabela did consent for Isabela's inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
|Hadji Mohammad Ajul|
|Rest of Basilan||144,640||94.46%||8,487||5.54%||153,127|
Municipalities in Lanao del Norte
The six towns voted in favor, in the cases of Munai and Tangcal, overwhelmingly, to join the BARMM.
- Rest of Lanao del Norte
Like in the case of Isabela in Basilan, the six towns inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will also have to secure consent from the rest of the towns in Lanao del Norte. Each town will have to secure consent individually. The city of Iligan, a highly urbanized city not under the jurisdiction of Lanao del Norte, will not participate in the plebiscite.
The other towns in Lanao del Norte rejected to allow the towns petitioning to be a part of the BARMM from joining. This defeated the measure of these towns from joining.
|Sultan Naga Dimaporo||567||24,405|
|Rest of Lanao del Norte||73,164||154,553||79,935||156,630||71,148||158,025||73,992||150,705||78,849||156,605||75,364||157,417|
Barangays in North Cotabato
Out of 67 barangays of North Cotabato that were included in the plebiscite, 63 voted for inclusion. The four that rejected the measure are Galidan, Tulunan, Balatican in Pikit, and Pagangan and Lower Mingading, Aleosan; these four shall not be joining the BARMM. Meanwhile, each municipality consented to its barangays in joining the BARMM. In Pikit, the most popular municipality in North Cotabato, all but one barangay that voted in the plebiscite to join declined. This led to 20 barangays staying out of the BARMM, out of 42. Pikit's town hall, which is located in Fort Pikit, one of the barangays that voted for inclusion, is being petitioned to be annexed by Poblacion, one of the towns that didn't petition to be included.
BARMM Core Territory
Approved petitioning barangays
The barangays included in the BARMM as core territories plus barangays with approved petitions will secure approval from their mother municipalities to join BARMM.
|Rest of Cotabato Municipalities Affected|
Reactions to the results
To the January 21 vote
Discrepancies were noted regarding the actual number of votes cast in Cotabato City; a total of 39,027 votes were recorded but 6,682 "yes" votes were recorded and 24,994 "no" votes with the combined total of the yes and no votes at 61,676. The National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers ordered a retabulation of the votes from Cotabato City to validate the votes.
The mayor of Cotabato City, Guiani Sayaidi, is to file a protest because of the results. She claims alleges harassment of voters who were not supportive of the BOL and "flying voters" or non-residents voting in another precinct. Sayaidi later alleged a conspiracy between the national government and the MILF for the result of the plebiscite in her city. She said that the military did not respond to her pleas to disperse MILF members which she claimed were harassing voters and also mentioned an alleged detention of barangay chief at the headquarters headquarters of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division after being told to attend a seminar in relation to the plebiscite at the eve of the plebiscite voting date. The claim has been denied by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Sayaidi was told to bring the matter to a "proper forum".
Less than a week after the plebiscite, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo of Sulu Province was bombed on January 27, one inside the church and another outside after the first bombing when the armed forced responded. Around 18 people were killed, while 82 others were injured. The Armed Forces of the Philippines blamed the Ajang-Ajang group of the Abu Sayyaf as the perpetrators. Sulu narrowly rejected inclusion in the BARMM, but since the old ARMM voted for inclusion, Sulu could not opt out of inclusion. The military has received reports that the Abu Sayyaf with foreign collaboration has been planning to attack an urban area for a "long time" already and insists it has yet to connect the bombings to the plebiscite itself.
The United Nations and the European Union the result of the plebiscite and Bangsamoro Organic Law as a significant achievement in the Mindanao peace process. The government of Turkey issued a statement with the same message while Japan has pledged continued support for aiding developments in Mindanao in accordance with the peace process.
To the February 6 vote
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The Commission on Elections announced on January 25, 2019 that the BOL is "deemed ratified" which meant that the ARMM will be abolished and that the process of the formal establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region begins. The election body also announced that Cotabato City will be part of this new autonomous region while Isabela City in Basilan which was never part of the ARMM will remain outside of the new autonomous region.
According to the Lanao del Norte provincial office of the Commission on Elections all six towns seeking to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region voted for their inclusion to the proposed region but failed to get a double majority as the rest of the province voted against their inclusion. The results will have to be verified through canvassing by the central office of the election body which will proclaim the results as official.
Also as per unofficial results, at least 63 of the 67 candidate barangays in North Cotabato voted for their inclusions and managed to have their parent municipality vote in favor of their inclusion. The barangays that will be part of the BARMM will not immediately seceede from their parent municipalities and province once the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is effectively established. They are expected to vote for municipal officials of their parent municipalities and North Cotabato provincial officials in the 2019 Philippine general election in May if the barangays are not reorganized into a new municipality or merged with any of the neighboring neighboring municipalities of Maguindanao in time before the elections.
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- 1977 Southern Philippines autonomous region creation plebiscite, plebiscite that created two autonomous regions in Mindanao
- 1989 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao creation plebiscite, plebiscite that created the ARMM
- 2001 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao expansion and inclusion plebiscite, plebiscite that expanded the ARMM