Comelec approves petitions of 20 LGUs to join Bangsamoro plebiscite

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Friday, January 4, that it approved the petitions of 20 local government units (LGUs) to be included in the upcoming plebiscite to ratify the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

In its first batch of decisions, the Comelec said the 20 LGUs that are neighbors of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) were able to comply with requirements needed for voluntary inclusion in the plebiscite. 

The LGUs with approved petitions are the following:

Cotabato

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said the Commission en banc denied 24 other petitions for failing to comply with rules and requirements.

The Comelec earlier gave neighboring LGUs until October 31, 2018, to file petitions for voluntary inclusion.

This could be done either through the local government, by way of a resolution submitted to the Comelec, or through a registered voter in the LGU. If done through the latter, the resolution should have the support of at least 10% of the registered voters of his or her LGU.

Petitions should have also stated specific areas of the BAR that the LGU claims to be contiguous to, reasons for such claim, and that there is no pending boundary dispute involving the petitioning LGU.

According to the Comelec, a total of 99 petitions were submitted.

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

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

The campaign period for the plebiscite started on December 7, 2018, and will end on January 19, 2019. (READ: Gov't, MILF kick off campaign for Bangsamoro plebiscite– Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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