Filtered By: Topstories

BOL ‘deemed ratified’ —Comelec

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc—sitting as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers—has proclaimed the Bangsamoro Organic Law ratified, with overwhelming votes coming from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas moved for the adoption of the Resolution of the proclamation that was seconded by the rest of the members of the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, in an interview with Super Radyo dzBB said the poll body will prepare a report stating that Republic Act 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law is "deemed ratified" and will submit it to President Rodrigo Duterte and to Congress.

He said the February 6 plebiscite will push through to determine the additional provinces that will join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

All four Certificates of Canvass (COC) of the areas that voted in the first part of the plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL)  on January 21 have been canvassed by the Comelec on Friday.

They include the COCs of Cotabato City, Isabela City, Basilan and the provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which are Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.

The BOL will replace the ARMM with a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) with an expanded land and water jurisdiction, fiscal autonomy, increased share in national government resources, among others.  This is seen as the final step in the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been leading a separatist insurgency since the 1970s.

BARMM is ARMM plus Cotabato City

The results so far showed that the BARMM will be composed of Cotabato City, plus the provinces under the present ARMM.

The composition of the new Bangsamoro Region is not yet final since the second part of the BOL plebiscite will still be conducted on February 6.

The February 6 plebiscite will cover the six municipalities of Lanao del Norte namely Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagaloan and Tangkall and 39 barangays of North Cotabato namely Aleosan, Carmen, Cabacan, Midsayap, Pigkawayan, and Pikit.

This means that these municipalities and barangays will only get to join the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region if the ‘yes’ vote will win in their respective municipality or barangay, and if their corresponding mother province, in this case Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato, will approve of it via a majority vote.

COC Results

The results of the canvassed COCs are:

Cotabato City  (36,682 Yes;  24,994 No)
Isabela City  (19,032 Yes;  22,441 No)
ARMM  (1,540,017 Yes;  198,750 No)
Basilan  (144,640 Yes;  8,487 No)

ARMM residents voted Yes or No for the BOL ratification.  Cotabato City and Isabela City residents voted Yes or No for inclusion in BARMM. 

The voters in Basilan did not only vote for the ratification of the BARMM, but were also asked whether Isabela City should join the new Bangsamoro region. This was so because Basilan remains the mother unit of Isabela City.

Since Isabela City voted against its inclusion in the BARMM, Basilan province’s favorable vote for the  inclusion in the BARMM has been rendered irrelevant.


Erroneous entries, clerical errors and and questions on the plebiscite returns surfaced during the first day of voting.

Despite this, the Comelec recorded a high voter turnout of 85.13 percent, representing 1,844,873 voters who actually voted as against the 2,167,244 registered voters.

Maguindanao had the highest voter turnout with 93.35 percent, while Cotabato City had the lowest with 54.22 percent.

The National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers earlier declared that the discrepancy on the entry of the number of registered voters who cast their vote between Cotabato City’s certificate of canvass (COC) and summary of votes (SOV) was a “formal error,” meaning the error was in filling out the form and as such won’t affect the BOL plebiscite results.

Lawyer Consuelo Diola of the Comelec Secretariat said that based on the findings of the Audit and Tabulation panel, the discrepancy was brought about by the Plebiscite Committee’s failure to enter the number of registered voters who actually voted during Day 1 of the BOL plebiscite on the SOV, thus resulting in an erroneous entry of total number of registered voters who actually voted in Cotabato City’s COC.

The correct number of the registered voters in Cotabato City which cast their vote were 61,676.

The national board of canvassers cleared the Isabela City Certificate of Canvass, which showed 'no' votes winning over 'yes' votes at 22,441 as against 19,032,  even after counsel Raisa Jajuri of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission claimed that about 80 Plebiscite Returns were canvassed or counted by the City Board of Canvassers even if these Plebiscite Returns had erasures and were tampered.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission helped Congress draft the BOL, a measure which replaces the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region with an expanded land and water jurisdiction, fiscal autonomy, increased share in national government resources, among others.

Upon questioning by Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, Jajuri said she was alleging fraud based on the Plebiscite Returns, not on the COC.

Guanzon told Jajuri that questions on the content of the COC was not a basis to stop the canvassing of votes since the board of canvassers’ authority was limited to determining the authenticity of the COC.

“It is not a ground to stop the proceedings. This is about determining the due execution and authenticity of the Certificate of Canvass,” Guanzon said.

Abas echoed Guanzon’s reminder, paving the way for the clearance of the Isabela City COC.—LDF, GMA News