More than 2.8M voters to take part in Bangsamoro plebiscite

MANILA, Philippines – More than 2.8 million people are expected to take part in the plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez announced on Monday, January 14.

In a press briefing, Jimenez said the Comelec recorded 2,839,659 million registered voters distributed over 18,439 established precincts who were registered to vote in the upcoming plebiscite set for January 21 and February 6.

Jimenez earlier said this exceeded the poll body's target of 2.5 million. He added that the Comelec is projecting at least 75% of registered voters in the region taking part in the plebiscite.

“We expect that there will be high turnout. Historically speaking, elections in that region have enjoyed high turnout rates, so upwards of 75%,” Jimenez said.

The final count includes the more than 150,000 former combatants from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who registered to vote in the plebiscite.

The poll body previously relaxed some of its rules so that former MILF fighters, their families, and those living in MILF camps could register and take part in the voting exercise.

The plebiscite for the BOL is set to take place on two dates. The first voting day will be on January 21, in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City, and Isabela City. The second voting for Lanao del Norte – except Iligan City – and North Cotabato, as well as LGUs that petitioned to be included, will take place on February 6. (READ: Comelec approves petitions of 20 LGUs to join Bangsamoro plebiscite)

The BOL seeks to abolish the ARMM and replace it with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which would have greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, parliament, and justice system.

It is the culmination of a peace deal signed between the MILF and past administrations, and builds upon the gains of previous Moro peace agreements since the 1970s. (READ: After Bangsamoro law, a bright yet bumpy path to peace) – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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