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Plebiscite in Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato to proceed on Feb. 6 —Comelec

The second round of the Bangsamoro Organic law (BOL) plebiscite for the inclusion of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato in the Bangsamoro Region will proceed on February 6 even after the bombing of a Catholic Church on Sunday.

“That [deferment of February 6 plebiscite has not been discussed. It is not being discussed. It is not being considered,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said.

“We will prepare as normal [preparations go]. If anything, the police will probably  be on greater watchfulness. As someone pointed out, martial law na nga eh," he added.

The bombings on Sunday killed at least 20 people and wounded around 100 others.

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 located in municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Cabacan, Midsayap, Pigkawayan, and Pikit.

The first round of the BOL plebiscite, on the other hand, was held in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City and Isabela City in Basilan on January 21.

The ‘yes’ vote to BOL ratification won with 1.5 million votes in the ARMM, paving the way for ARMM abolition and establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region with an expanded land and water jurisdiction, fiscal autonomy, increased share in national government resources, among others.

The plebiscite in the cities of Cotabato and Isabela was for their inclusion in the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

The ‘yes’ vote won in Cotabato City, 36,682 as against 24,994, while the ‘no’ vote won in Isabela City, 19,032 as against 22,441.

While the ARMM voted for BOL ratification, the province of Sulu voted against it with only 137,630 ‘yes’ votes as against 163,526 ‘no’ votes.

Sulu’s no vote, however, was negated since the province was part of the vote of entire ARMM.

Jimenez said that the Sulu blasts is not a ground to overturn the BOL plebiscite results last January 21 when the 'yes' vote in the ARMM won to ratify the BOL.

“It is still up in the air whether or not it is BOL related. However, meron na tayong naririnig na attempts to link them," Jimenez said.

"The situation is very volatile, it is easy to throw blame, but as far as Comelec  is concerned, we will prefer that the police handle this investigation and for us to make the determination whether these blasts are BOL related to a later date,” he added.

“But ultimately, it (Jolo blasts) would not affect the outcome of [Day 1 of] BOL plebiscite because the Comelec already released [the official] results [of the Day 1 of BOL plebiscite], “ Jimenez said. —NB, GMA News