“Consistent with the position of the President for the ratification of the BOL, we are pleased that the ‘yes’ vote has prevailed in Cotabato City,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said, citing a complete but unofficial Commission on Elections tally.
At the library of the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center in Cotabato City, the Plebiscite Board of Canvassers of Cotabato City terminated its canvass at 9:55 p.m., with a final tally of 36,682 “yes” votes and 24,994 “no votes” with a total 61,676 votes cast.
The total votes cast constitute a majority of 59.57 percent of the city’s voting population.
Panelo said the people have voted “yes” to join the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and called on those who opposed it to abide by the majority decision.
“All the major players, pro and con, must now come together and work together for the success of the common aspiration of the Bangsamoro people, which is to have a progressive and peaceful Mindanao,” he said.
The Palace official also addressed the possible emergence of claims of irregularity over the plebiscite.
“As in all elections and plebiscites, there will be claims of irregularity, fraud, and intimidation,” he said.
“If they do not affect the credibility of the elections and alter the result thereof, while those responsible for the undemocratic methods will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, the result of the plebiscite must be upheld despite discordant voices,” Panelo added.
Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison said President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed “cheaters to produce glaring discrepancies.”
“A total of 39,027 people voted in Cotabato City but the total number of ‘votes cast’ is 61,676 in order to make the ‘yes’ votes win,” Sison said in a Facebook post.
He said the winner should be the 24,994 ‘no’ votes out of 39,027, but the alleged cheaters fabricated
21,622 to add to 15,020 ‘yes’ votes to produce the false winning figure of 36,682 ‘yes’ votes.
“This is Duterte-style electioneering which is applied in the BOL plebiscite and which is likely to be applied in the May 2019 elections if held,” he added.
Based on the Comelec final tally on Tuesday evening, a majority of Cotabato City’s voters opted to be included in the new political entity BARMM.
According to the City Board of Canvassers, the “yes” had 36,682 votes (59 percent) favoring the inclusion of the city to the new political entity while “no” recorded 24,994 votes (41 percent).
The figures were based on unofficial results of canvassing at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex, the provisional seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Comelec-ARMM director Ray Sumalipao said the poll body will officially announce the plebiscite results in Manila in the coming days before the second plebiscite on Feb. 6.
Voters residing in Lanao del Norte, except in Iligan City and six North Cotabato municipalities, will vote on then on the BOL.
Meanwhile, unofficial results showed residents of Sulu were not in favor of the BOL.
Based on Sulu’s Certificate of Canvass signed by the Comelec Provincial Plebiscite Board of Canvassers, the “yes” votes totaled 137,630 as against 163,526 “no” votes.
Sulu is composed of 19 cities and municipalities and has 375,137 registered voters.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the successful holding of a plebiscite marked another milestone on the road to peace.
Pimentel, president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), noted that the plebiscite is one of the legal challenges that needs to be hurdled to activate the BOL.
He said he was confident the second plebiscite on Feb. 6 would be even more successful and peaceful.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.