Lawyers’ group to protest plebiscite results in Isabela City

Richard Falcatan, Sofia Tomacruz

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Lawyers’ group to protest plebiscite results in Isabela City


The group cites anomalies in about 80 plebiscite returns, although the votes will only be official once canvassed by the National Board of Canvassers in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – A group of lawyers in Isabela City said on Wednesday, January 23, it would protest the unofficial results of the Bangsamoro plebiscite in the city. (READ: Isabela City votes against joining new Bangsamoro region)

The group’s representative, Ersad Tawasil, made a manifestation before the city board of canvassers, saying, “I would like to signify our intention to file a plebiscite protest before the National Plebiscite Board [of Canvassers].”

The canvassing board said it took note of the group’s intention.

PROTEST. Ersad Tawasil, who represents a group of lawyers in Isabela City, makes a manifestation before the city board of canvassers on January 23, 2019. Photo by Richard Falcatan/Rappler

On Wednesday, Isabela City in Basilan had voted against joining the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), according to unofficial results from the city board of canvassers.

The votes against joining BARMM stood at 22,441, beating those for inclusion by 3,409. There was a voter turnout out of 58%.

The group’s intention to file a petition makes for the second of such kind in the Bangsamoro plebiscite. Earlier on Wednesday, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani Sayadi said she would also file a protest contesting the results in the Cotabato City, where the vote favoring the city’s inclusion in the expanded Muslim region won.

Alleged anomalies

During the canvassing of votes, groups assembled in front Isabela City Hall to demand the suspension of canvassingdue to alleged anomalies in the plebiscite. They had contested 80 plebiscite returns, which were all canvassed Tuesday night.

Before the 80 plebiscite returns were canvassed, the “yes” votes slightly outnumbered the “no” votes at 13,049 for “yes” and 12,783 for “no.”

Isabela City had been an area to watch in the Bangsamoro plebiscite as there was heated debate about whether or not it should be part of the BARMM.

Supporters of the Bangsamoro Organic Law had hoped majority in the city wold vote to join the BARMM. Outgoing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman hails from Basilan, the province where Isabela City is.

Hataman’s wife, Sitti Djalia Turabin, is running for mayor of Isabela City.

Meanwhile, results from Isabela City are not yet official. They still need to be canvassed by the National Board of Canvassers in Manila. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

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