Bangsamoro region gains additional territories in Cotabato province

But the vote to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao loses in Lanao del Norte

Sofia Tomacruz

Published: 4:27 PM February 14, 2019

Updated: 5:47 PM February 14, 2019

DECIDE. Voters in the interior town of Salvador, Lanao del Norte cast their votes during the second Bangsamoro plebiscite on February 6, 2019. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangsamoro government will see itself governing over greater territory as over 60 barangays (villages) in Cotabato voted to join the new Muslim region.

After residents voted on February 6 in the second Bangsamoro plebiscite aimed at expanding the new region’s territory, the affirmative vote won in 63 out of 67 barangays that petitioned to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers on Thursday, February 14, announced the official results of the plebiscite saying, the areas "shall form part of the BARMM," considering a majority of voters in the barangay and the municipality to which they belonged to voted in favor of inclusion. 

The affirmative vote won in all barangays in Midsayap (13), Pigkawayan (12), Kabacan (7), and Carmen (7). It also won in 22 barangays in Pikit and in two barangays in Aleosan.

They are the following:

63 North Cotabato baragays part of the BARMM           Dunguan, Aleosan             Datu Binsaing, PigkawayanTapodoc, AleosanDatu Mantil, PigkawayanKibayao, CarmenKadingilan, PigkawayanKitulaan, CarmenLibungan Torreta, PigkawayanLangogan, CarmenMatilac, PigkawayanManarapan, CarmenLower Pangangkalan, PigkawayanNasapian, CarmenUppper Pangangkalan, PigkawayanPebpoloan, CarmenPatot, PigkawayanTupig, CarmenSimsiman, PigkawayanBuluan, KabacanBagoinged, PikitNanga-an, KabacanS. Balong, PikitPedtad, KabacanS. Balongis, PikitSanggadong, KabacanBarungis, PikitSimbuhay, KabacanBatulawan, PikitSimone, KabacanBualan, PikitTamped, KabacanBuliok, PikitDamatulan, MidsayapBulol, PikitKadigasan, MidsayapFort Pikit, PikitKadingilan, MidsayapGli-Gli, PikitKapinpilan, MidsayapGokotan, PikitKudarangan, MidsayapKabasalan, PikitCentral Labas, MidsayapLagunde, PikitMalingao, MidsayapMacabual, PikitMudseng, MidsayapMacasendeg, PikitNabalawag, MidsayapManaulanan, PikitOlandang, MidsayapNabundas, PikitSambulawan, MidsayapNalapaan, PikitTugal, MidsayapNunguan, PikitTumbras, MidsayapPamalian, PikitLower Baguer, PigkawayanPanicupan, PikitBalacayon, PigkawayanRajamuda, PikitBuricain, Pigkawayan 

For the petitioning barangays to be allowed to join the BARMM, the "yes" vote needed to win as well in the rest of the barangays in their respective municipalities.

Along with Cotabato City, these barangays will join the provinces of the old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as they form BARMM. The new region which will have wider powers and greater control over resources in the region.

The vote follows the first plebiscite held on January 21 that saw the ARMM as well as Cotabato City ratifying the Bangsamoro Organic Law and agreeing to join the BARMM that the law created.

No inclusion for Lanao del Norte towns

In Lanao del Norte, however, the 6 towns that petitioned to be included in the BARMM were prevented from doing so. 

A majority of residents in the province voted against the inclusion of all 6 municipalities that wanted to join the BARMM. (Iligan City, an independent city, did not take part of the vote.)

"The Commission on Elections, sitting en banc as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers, hereby proclaims that the municiplaities of Balo-i, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan, and Tangkal – all of the province of Lanao del Norte – shall not form part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," National plebiscite board of canvassers chair Commissioner Al Parreño said.

The 6 municipalities are areas where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have strong presence.

The MILF was unable to overcome the challenge of a double majority as the rest of the province overruled the vote of the 6 municipalities, which chose to join the BARMM.

It’s the same scenario residents of the towns found themselves in after they voted yes to joining the ARMM in 2001, only to have it overruled by the rest of the province.

The BOL mandates for mother local government units to have the final say over whether or not the towns can become part of BARMM. It was among the more contentious provisions in the BOL.

In this province, the MILF was up against the ruling and powerful Dimaporo clan, who had campaigned hard to keep their provincial territories out of the new Muslim region.

Both the Dimaporos and the MILF, however, said they would respect the outcome of the vote.

New chapter

With the final plebiscite concluded, the Bangsamoro government will now have the task of governing and laying down the foundations of the new Bangsamoro region. (READ: Now that the Bangsamoro law is ratified, what comes next?

Many Moros have pinned their hopes for peace in Mindanao on the Bangsamoro law. Clashes between the MILF and government troops have claimed the lives of over 150,000 in the conflict-torn region.

The BOL is the culmination of the MILF's 40-year struggle for autonomy with peace negotiations steered over the course of the adminstrations of 4 presidents.

All eyes will be on the new Bangsamoro region as it forges a new chapter in its history. –

Read Rappler's full coverage of the Bangsamoro plebiscite here: Bangsamoro Vote 2019