Cotabato City—All 63 barangays of Cotabato Province that voted favorably to be part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have officially joined the region.
Acting Governor Emilou Taliño-Mendoza led the turnover to top Bangsamoro officials on Wednesday.
“In behalf of the BARMM, the Ministers, the Members of Parliament of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, we hereby officially acknowledge and accept the 63 barangays of North Cotabato that voted to be part of the Bangsamoro Government,” BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim said.
BARMM Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the 63 barangays have voted consistently in favor of joining the autonomous region in three past plebiscites. Their previous affirmative votes, however, had been overturned by the negative vote at the municipal and provincial levels.
“We are happy that they are now with us as we transition to the next level of the struggle,” Murad said.
During the plebiscite in February, 63 villages in the municipalities of Midsayap, Aleosan, Pikit and Kabacan voted overwhelmingly to join the BARMM and ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
The turnover was witnessed by top BARMM officials, including Deputy Minister Hatimil Hasan, Public Works Minister Eduard Guerra, Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua, Cotabato Provincial Board Member Kelly Antao, and regional information chief Norodin Salam.
Macacua said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is grateful to Mendoza, her fellow local officials, the barangay executives of the 63 villages and their constituents for their efforts in pushing for the inclusion of those areas into the BARMM.
“We are honored to be reunited with our brothers and sisters in Cotabato Province who have been separated from us in the last 40 years by a Presidential Decree (341), issued by then-President Marcos, though it was never subjected to a plebiscite,” Sinarimbo said.
Sinarimbo said the transfer of the local of local government jurisdiction was “not about separation, but is about reuniting our people. It is not about creating boundaries, but is about building a bridge to reconnect them.”