Isabela City votes against joining new Bangsamoro region

MANILA, Philippines – Isabela City in Basilan voted not to join the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the plebiscite held last Monday, January 21, according to unofficial results from the city's board of canvassers.

The tally on Wednesday, January 23, showed that the votes in favor of joining the BARMM were defeated by the number of votes against it.

The unofficial results from Isabela City are as follows:

The number of "no" votes were 3,402 votes higher than the "yes." 

Isabela City had been another key Mindanao area to watch during the plebiscite because of the heated debate there about the issue of joining BARMM.

In Cotabato City, where tensions were at boiling point, the "yes" votes won  in the end.

There had been hopes from Bangsamoro Organic Law supporters that Isabela City would vote to join BARMM because ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman, an influential pro-BOL voice, hailed from Basilan province where the city is located.

His wife, Sitti Djalia Turabin, is running for Isabela City mayor.

Alleged anomalies

Groups assembled in front of Isabela City Hall on Wednesday demanding that canvassing of votes be suspended due to alleged anomalies in the plebiscite.

Groups had also contested 80 plebiscite returns. These returns were all canvassed on Tuesday night.

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

The results from Isabela City, however, are not yet official. They will still be canvassed by the National Board of Canvassers headed by Commission on Elections chief Sheriff Abas, in Manila. – With reports from Richard Falcatan/Rappler.com