'Confidential survey' held in Bangsamoro areas, Presidential Peace Adviser confirms

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Cotabato City (CNN Philippines, January 21) — A "confidential survey" was held in the proposed Bangsamoro areas in months leading to the historic Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite in Mindanao.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez told CNN Philippines on January 20 that a survey was held in December 2018 and January 2019. He called the survey results as "extensive" and "convincing."

He said one of the findings of the survey showed Cotabato City will have an "overwhelming" yes vote of at least 70 percent.

"There is a very confidential survey na nabasa ko. Talagang extensive. Ginawa nila last December 9 to 12 and then yung isa ngayong January 9 to 12. Ang nakita nila is those who are for yes, ang kanilang reason is there will be peace. Second is there will be reconciliation. There will be unity and there is progress... Majority sa kanila is talagang convinced the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) can really deliver the goods and the governance," he said.

However, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi has openly opposed the city's inclusion in the new Bangsamoro region. The is not included in the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Galvez refused to give further details on who commissioned the survey and which agency conducted it. CNN Philippines is also trying to independently verify its authenticity.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday personally made a last pitch for the ratification of the BOL, pleading to Cotabato City residents to vote in favor of the measure which would abolish the ARMM and establish the new Bangsamoro ARMM (BARMM).

Cotabato City is seen as a possible hotly contested area during the plebiscite. Cotabato City has the highest economic potential among the proposed Bangsamoro areas. Its location is also strategic.

The plebiscite, where Cotabato City, Isabela City, Basilan, and ARMM is voting in on Monday, is seen as a historic event since it is the first time that the MILF, a former revolutionary force, would submit itself to a democratic electoral process.

A second plebiscite for Lanao del Norte excluding Iligan City, North Cotabato, and the 28 areas which petitioned for inclusion into the new Bangsamoro region is scheduled for February 6.

CNN Philippine Senior Correspondent David Santos contributed to this report.