Asia - Pacific

2nd round of plebiscite in southern Philippines ends

Muslims in Philippines vote in 2nd round of plebiscite granting southern Bangsamoro region long-awaited autonomy

Zehra Nur Düz   | 06.02.2019
2nd round of plebiscite in southern Philippines ends


By Ahmet Furkan Mercan


The second round of a plebiscite that granted the Moro Muslims in southern Philippines the long-awaited comprehensive autonomy took place on Wednesday for its expansion.

The plebiscite, which was the second phase of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), was held in six towns -- Tagoloan, Balo-i, Pantar, Munai, Nunungan and Tangcal -- in northwestern Lanao del Norte and in 67 residential areas in North Cotabato.

Voters were asked whether they want to join the newly-formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Results of the latest phase of the BOL will ensure a larger area for the BARMM, after which an interim administration will be formed to take the region to elections once it is completed.

Bangsamoro is a collective term for Filipino Muslims living on an archipelago on the southern portion of the Philippines. The term is used to describe both the Moro Muslims and their homeland.  

Historic plebiscite

The Philippines' landmark BOL was officially ratified on Jan. 25 following the results of the first round of voting on Jan. 21 which granted comprehensive autonomy to Moro Muslims.

More than 1.54 million people -- corresponding to over 85 percent of the electorate -- voted in favor of the BOL, while some 190,000 voted against, according to official results.

The first voting included the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, and the island provinces of Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Sulu as well as the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.  

Voting ends in the second round

Voting in the second round ended at 15:00 pm at local time.

The Philippines Election Commission (COMELEC) announced that the official results will be announced within four days.

Before voting, COMELEC announced that about 640,000 voters including Muslims, Lumad, Christian and local people were eligible to vote in the second stage of the historic plebiscite.  

Bangsamoro Organic Law

Under the BOL, courts of Islamic law will be established in the region, and the Philippines’ central government will transfer its administrative authorities in Mindanao to the Bangsamoro government.

The waters in the Bangsamoro region will be simultaneously managed by the national government as well as the Bangsamoro government.

The autonomous government will be responsible for the management of energy resources.

The Muslims will be free in their internal affairs, while they will be bound to the Philippines in foreign policy, save some flexibility.

In addition, former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters will be eligible to join official armed forces.

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