LOOK: Questions, voting instructions for Bangsamoro plebiscite

Sofia Tomacruz
LOOK: Questions, voting instructions for Bangsamoro plebiscite
Here are questions and instructions voters should familiarize themselves with before the plebiscite

MANILA, Philippines – With the plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) fast approaching, both the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) have released questions for participating voters.

Answers to these questions will determine whether or not the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will be created and which territories will be included in the proposed new region.

The BOL seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and replace it with the BARMM, which would have greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, parliament, and justice system.

It is the culmination of a peace deal signed between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and past administrations, and builds upon the gains of previous Moro peace agreements since the 1970s. (READ: After Bangsamoro law, a bright yet bumpy path to peace)

Both the BTC and Comelec urged voters to familiarize themselves with the questions and voting instructions to ensure their ballots are counted and remain valid.

How to properly indicate one’s vote on the ballot: Based on Comelec Resolution 10464, only answers in the form of “yes” or “no,” “oo” o “hindi,” or corresponding equivalents of other dialects will be counted as valid votes.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said that a “✓” (check) or “x” mark will not be considered as “yes” or “no” votes. Instead, these will be counted as an abstention.

“The ballot will be voted on but there will be no outcome from the ballot,” Jimenez said during a press briefing Monday, January 14.

Voters should make sure no lines, circles, “x,” or other marks are left on any part of the ballots as these would invalidate them.

Questions to be asked per area

The first voting day will be on January 21, in the ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City.

Voters will be asked questions which will have corresponding translations in Arabic. Sample images of the ballot are also posted below:

ARMM (except Basilan)

Territories in the ARMM, including Lanao del Sur, Maguindano, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi will be asked only one question:

  • Payag ba kayo na pagtibayin ang Batas Republic Blg. 11054 na kilala din bilang “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao?” (Do you agree to ratify Republic Act No. 11054 also known as the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao?”)

Sample ballot:

All photos from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission

Basilan

Meanwhile, the province of Basilan will be asked the following two questions:

  • Payag ba kayo na pagtibayin ang Batas Republic Blg. 11054 na kilala din bilang “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao?” (Do you agree to ratify Republic Act No. 11054 also known as the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao?”)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Lungsod ng Isabela, Bailan sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have Isabela City, Basilan join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)

Sample ballot:

Isabela City and North Cotabato will both be asked one question on the inclusion of their cities in the BARMM.

Isabela City

  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Lungsod ng Isabela, Basilan sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have Isabela City, Basilan join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)

Sample ballot:

Cotabato City

  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Lungsod ng Cotabato sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have Cotabato City join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)

Sample ballot:

 

If the majority of voters in ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City vote to create the BARMM, a second voting on February 6 will be held. 

This will happen in Lanao del Norte – except Iligan City – and North Cotabato, as well as in LGUs that petitioned to be included. (READ: Comelec approves petitions of 20 LGUs to join Bangsamoro plebiscite)

They will be asked the following questions:

Lanao del Norte

  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Munisipalidad ng Balo-i, Lanao del Norte sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have the Municipality of Balo-i, Lanao del Norte join the Bangsaoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Munisipalidad ng Munai, Lanao del Norte sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have the Municipality of Munai, Lanao del Norte join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Munisipalidad ng Nunungan, Lanao del Norte sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have the Municipality of Nunungan, Lanao del Norte join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Munisipalidad ng Pantar, Lanao del Norte sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have the Municipality of Pantar, Lanao del Norte join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Munisipalidad ng Tagolan, Lanao del Norte sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have the Municipality of Tagolan, Lanao del Norte join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Munisipalidad ng Tangkal, Lanao del Norte sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have the Municipality of Tangkal, Lanao del Norte join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)

North Cotabato

  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Barangay Dunguan, Aleosan, Hilagang Cotabato sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have Barangay Dunguan, Aleosan, North Cotabao join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Barangay Lower Mingading, Aleosan, Hilagang Cotabato sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have Barangay Lower Mingading, Aleosan, North Cotabao join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan, Hilagang Cotabato sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan, North Cotabao join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)
  • Payag ba kayo na isama ang Barangay Tapodoc, Aleosan, Hilagang Cotabato sa Rehiyong Awtonomo ng Bangsamoro?” (Do you agree to have Barangay Tapodoc, Aleosan, North Cotabao join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region?)

If territories included in the January 21 plebiscite vote “no,” Jimenez said it is possible the voting on February 6 may no longer take place.

He also said, “If the ‘no’ vote wins on January 21, the weight of legal opinion is, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region might not even be created at all. If it is not created at all, again, it stands to reason that there might not even be [need] to ask…these groups to be included…” Because, he added, it would be unclear what they would be a part of. 

According to the Comelec, more than 2.8 million are expected to vote in the plebiscite to ratify the landmark law. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.