Comelec to hold two-day Bangsamoro plebiscite in January, February 2019

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — The plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro law will be split into two dates, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced Friday.

The poll body said the initial plebiscite date of January 21, 2019 will still push through. However, another day was added for local government units which petitioned for voluntary inclusion in the region.

The second day of the referendum is set on February 6, 2019.

 

In its press release, Comelec said the geographical areas comprising the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)-- Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Tawi-Tawi-- as well as Isabela City in Basilan and Cotabato City will hold their own plebiscites during the original scheduled date of January 21.

Meanwhile, the February 6 plebiscite will cater to local government units which petitioned for voluntary inclusion in the plebiscite. These areas include Lanao del Norte province (except Iligan City), and the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit, and Pigkawayan in the province of North Cotabato.

The poll body added there are close to a hundred pending petitions for inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

"The reason we split the plebiscite is because we want to give enough time to deal with the issues being raised, in the different petitions. We don't want to summarily dismiss everything," said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

During a speech in Zamboanga City on July 26, President Rodrigo Duterte announced he had signed the Bangsamoro Organic Law, creating the new Bangsamoro autonomous region. The region will take the place of the current ARMM.

READ: The Bangsamoro Organic Law: Everything you need to know

The landmark legislation is the result of decades-long peace negotiations between the Philippine government and rebel groups in Mindanao.

The plebisicite will determine which other cities and municipalities will be part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Close to three million voters in Mindanao will take part of referendum.

The campaign period, which kicked off Friday, will end on January 19, 2019.