Politics, Asia - Pacific

Philippines: Most of N.Cotabato set to join Moro region

Official results of 2nd round of referendum on autonomous Moro Muslim region in southern Philippines come in

Sena Güler   | 14.02.2019
Philippines: Most of N.Cotabato set to join Moro region


By Ahmet Furkan Mercan and Sena Guler


Sixty-three out of 67 villages in North Cotabato voted Yes to join the newly-formed autonomous region for Muslims in southern Philippines, according to official results of a second referendum on Thursday.

The second phase of the referendum on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on Feb. 6 covered six towns -- Tagoloan, Balo-i, Pantar, Munai, Nunungan and Tangcal -- in northwestern Lanao del Norte and 67 residential areas in North Cotabato.

The Philippines Election Commission (COMELEC) announced that while 63 residential areas voted to be part of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), all six towns in Lanao del Norte voted against it.

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 -- over 85 percent of the electorate -- voted in favor of the BOL, while some 190,000 voted against, according to official results.

President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his pleasure at the results.

“I'm glad that it has succeeded and I am inviting everyone here ... to join us in government," Duterte was quoted as saying by Philippine news site Rappler.

“Be part of it. You can bury your weapons. You won't need them,” he was quoted.

Members of the interim government that will govern the BARMM for three years are expected to be appointed by Duterte in the coming weeks.

Autonomous government

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.

Muslims will be free in their internal affairs, while they will be bound to the Philippines in foreign policy, with 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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