Officials see 60% plebiscite turnout in special BARMM territory in Cotabato

Rommel Rebollido

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Officials see 60% plebiscite turnout in special BARMM territory in Cotabato

SECURITY CONFERENCE. Elections Chairman George Erwin Garcia and Army 6th Infantry Division commander Major General Alex Rillera share a light moment as they meet with officials from the BARMM and Soccsksargen to prepare for the April 13 plebiscite in the Bangsamoro region's special territory in Cotabato.

6th Infantry Division

The April 13 plebiscite will determine the fate of BARMM’s eight newly created towns

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – All is set for a plebiscite that will present for ratification the laws that created eight new municipalities out of the 63 villages in the Special Geographic Areas in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The plebiscite has been scheduled for Saturday, April 13.

BARMM spokesperson Mohd Asnin Pendatun said on Wednesday, April 3, that they expect a 60% turnout, similar to what happened in 2019 during a plebiscite when residents of the 63 villages in Cotabato province, a part of the Soccsksargen region, voted for inclusion in the BARMM.

The BARMM-SGA has around 89,594 registered voters who will troop to 189 clustered precincts and 67 voting centers. BARMM has earmarked at least P80 million for the conduct of the plebiscite.

In a conference with police and military officials at the regional police headquarters on Tuesday, March 2, Elections Chairman George Erwin Garcia said all the necessary security preparations have been put in place to avoid disturbances during the political exercise.

The police and the military have beefed up personnel to ensure a smooth conduct of the plebiscite, Garcia said. 

A gun ban has been in effect since March 14 and will be enforced until April 20. With the gun ban in effect, all permits to carry firearms outside of residence have been suspended, Garcia said.

In his previous pronouncements, Garcia said the SGA plebiscite will be part of the preparations for the first regional parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2025, along with the national and local elections.

The eight new towns, the creation of which will be presented for ratification during the plebiscite, include Pahamuddin, Kadayangan, Nabalawag, Old Kaabakan, Kapalawan, Malidegao, Tugunan, and Ligawasan.

These towns were created by Bangsamoro Autonomy Act Nos. 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, and 48.

The BARMM laws that created the towns require the BARMM government to appropriate and provide financial assistance for the administrative and operational requirements of the new towns.

Every town will get their financial aid until they are able to get their share of the national tax allocation, Pendatun said.

He said that once the laws creating the towns are ratified, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim will appoint officers-in-charge.

“The chief minister will only appoint based on a review and selection process,” Pendatun said.

If ratified, Pahamuddin town will consist of the following villages:

  • Balacayon
  • Buricain
  • Datu Binasing
  • Datu Mantil
  • Kadingilan
  • Lower Pangangkalan
  • Libungan Torreta
  • Matilac
  • Patot
  • Upper Pangangkalan
  • Lower Baquer
  • Simsiman

The villages used to be under Pigcawayan town, Cotabato.

The town of Kadayangan was formed out of the following villages of Midsayap, Cotabato:

  • Central Labas
  • Kapinpilan
  • Malingao
  • Mudseng
  • Sambulawan
  • Tugal
  • Tumbras

Nabalawag town comprises the following villages:

  • Damatulan
  • Kadigasan
  • Kadingilan
  • Kudarangan
  • Nabalawag
  • Olandang (formerly with Midsayap)
  • Dungguan (from the town of Aleosan)

If ratified, the town of Old Kaabakan will be composed of the following villages, which used to be part of Kabacan town, Cotabato:

  • Buluan
  • Nangaan
  • Sanggadong
  • Simbuhay
  • Simone
  • Pedtad
  • Tamped

Kapalawan town comprises the following villages, which used to be part of Carmen, Cotabato:

  • Kibayao
  • Kitulaan
  • Langogan
  • Manarapan
  • Nasapian
  • Pebpoloan
  • Tupig

The new town of Malidegao consists of the following villages, all of which used to be barangays of Pikit town, Cotabato:

  • Balungis
  • Batulawan
  • Fort Pikit
  • Gokotan
  • Nabundas
  • Nalapaan
  • Nunguan

Tugunan town’s villages, which used to be part of Pikit and Aleosan, are the following:

  • Balong
  • Bualan
  • Lagunde
  • Macabual
  • Macasendeg
  • Manaulanan
  • Pamalian
  • Panicupan
  • Tapodoc 

The town of Ligawasan consists of the following villages carved out of Pikit:

  • Bagoinged
  • Barungis
  • Bulol
  • Buliok
  • Gli-Gli
  • Kabasalan
  • Rajamuda

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