99.27% of vote cast in plebiscite all “yes” to dividing province into 2
Maguindanao will be divided into two provinces, Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur, after more than 99 percent of voters in a plebiscite Saturday chose to ratify a law that splits the province into two.
Commission on Elections spokesman Rex Laudiangco said out of the 711,767 registered voters in Maguindanao who joined the plebiscite, 706,558 or 99.27 percent voted “yes” in favor of splitting the province into two while only 5,209 or 0.73 percent voted “no.”
The voter turnout is 86.93 percent, the highest in a province-wide plebiscite based on percentage.
The creation of Compostela Valley from Davao Del Norte in 1998 ranks second.
“The creation of the two provinces of Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur had long been hoped for by the Maguindanaoans and their elected leaders,” Laudiangco added.
“This dream has now become a reality with the success of the plebiscite and the ratification of Republic Act No. 11550.”
Poll watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) earlier reported the plebiscite was generally “smooth, organized, and peaceful.”
Comelec chairman George Garcia attributed the high voter turnout to the willingness of the electorate to participate and their belief in the process.
“People are not afraid to cast their votes. They trust the process so much,” he said.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the plebiscite was peaceful and orderly.
Azurin said a total of 2,377 PNP personnel were deployed for election duties during the plebiscite, with 1,116 assigned in 461 polling centers.
A sizable number of police personnel were also detailed to provide security to convoys transporting election materials, security at the provincial capitol, municipal hubs, provincial treasurer’s office, and 20 mobile checkpoints around the province.
Some 600 other police personnel were deployed for civil disturbance management, quick response team, reactionary standby support force, investigation covert security, and implementation of minimum public health standards.
Azurin said election paraphernalia was received as scheduled, polling precincts opened on time, and there were no plebiscite-related incidents reported.
He said security processes and protocols were organized, and anti-COVID protocols and efforts were still enforced and observed.
“I feel happy for the people of Maguindanao for this historic moment that they are afforded this opportunity to decide for themselves the future of their province,” Azurin said.
In May 2021, former President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11550, or the Charter of the Provinces of Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur.
Under the law, Maguindanao del Norte will be made up of Barira, Buldon, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Northern Kabuntalan, Parang, North Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Talitay.
Maguindanao del Sur will be composed of Ampatuan, Buluan, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Datu Montawal, Datu Paglas, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Guindulungan, Mamasapano, Mangudadatu, Pagalungan, Paglat, Pandag, Rajah Buayan, Shariff Aguak, Shariff Saydona Mustafa, Sultan sa Barongis, Talayan, and South Upi.
The capital towns and seats of the government of Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur shall be the municipalities of Datu Odin Sinsuat and Buluan, respectively.