More ARMM youth support Bangsamoro Law – survey

Sofia Tomacruz

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More ARMM youth support Bangsamoro Law – survey

Manman Dejeto

More youth in the region now consider terrorism as the top priority to be addressed by the Bangsamoro Organic Law, according to the survey of International Alert Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Days before the plebiscite, more youth in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said they would vote in favor of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, according to the results of the latest survey conducted by peace-building organization International Alert (IA) Philippines.

IA Country Director Nikki de la Rosa said based on the results of a survey held from January 11 to 13, 70.4% of ARMM youth – whether or not they intend to vote – support the BOL’s ratification. (READ: What you need to know about the Bangsamoro plebiscite)

De la Rosa bared the latest survey results in a press briefing Friday, January 18. 

The latest figure is 10 percentage points higher than 60.4% of youth who said they were in favor of the law in the IA survey held from October 29 to November 19, 2018.

Comparing the two surveys, the results in 2019 showed the “yes” vote widened among youth in ARMM, De la Rosa said.

The findings are also more pronounced among youth who said they would actually cast their votes on Monday, January 21. Among this subset, 87% said they would vote “yes” to the BOL, while 3.1% said they were not in favor, and 9.9% were unsure.

For youth who said they did not intend to vote, 46.1% said they were not in favor of the BOL whereas 53.9% remained undecided.

De la Rosa said the overall rise in support for the BOL was mainly driven by the change in the preference of the youth in Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.

In Tawi-Tawi, youth support for the law increased to 82.2% from  46.2% in the last poll, while Lanao del Sur recorded a solid 100% “yes” vote, up from 89.9%. In Maguindanao, youth support for the BOL rose to 88.5% from 80%.

The youth vote is critical for the BOL because they comprise 57% of registered voters in the ARMM. Those considered youth are aged 18 to 35.

Explaining the increase, De la Rosa said: “It is also plausible that the campaign was generally successful in familiarizing the youth with the BOL….Increase in the familiarity on the BOL rose from 84% [in 2018] to 93.5% in January 2019.”

What remains to be seen is whether increased familiarity with the BOL would translate to actual votes. According to the survey results at least, more youth said they would participate in the plebiscite – up to 77% from 54.5% in the last poll.

Increase in ‘no’ votes

While there was an overall increase in support among ARMM youth, the same could not be said for those in Cotabato City and Isabela City. The two cities are among places to watch during the plebiscite as they have indicated “no” votes.

Francisco Lara Jr , IA senior peace and conflict adviser in Asia, said that while the “yes” vote in these areas remained sizeable, the “no” vote has gained momentum among the youth.

Cotabato City saw the “no” vote soar to 32% from 13% in the last quarter of 2018, and to 35% from 8.8% in Isabela City.

IA statistician Angelo Casalan said the rise in “no” votes in Cotabato City could be due to the influx of youth who said they would not support the BOL. He said the deadly New Year’s Eve blast that rocked the city a few week ago might have also contributed to this.

As for Isabela City, the youth remained uncertain the BOL could end rebellion and weaken terrorist groups. Some 63% said they were still unsure and unfamiliar with the law.

Youth’s expectations

Among issues the BOL should address, the survey showed that the youth’s top concerns are peace and security, corruption, and development.


However, more youth now considered terrorism to be a top priority compared to last year when poverty was the top concern as 70% think the BOL should address terrorism. This was followed by 60% who think the law must address poverty, and 42% who said it should address corruption.

De la Rosa said the Bangsamoro Transition Authority would do well to address these concerns if a new Muslim region is created. (READ: Power brokers in the Bangsamoro region)

The IA survey involved 328 youth respondents in areas that are set to vote in the plebiscite on January 21: ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.