Lanao del Norte rejects inclusion of 6 towns in new Bangsamoro region

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) — Six Lanao del Norte towns will remain part of the province after failing to get majority votes to join the new Bangsamoro autonomous region in Wednesday's plebiscite, according to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The Regional Plebiscite Board of Canvassers said that the towns of Tagoloan, Balo-i, Pantar, Munai, Tangcal and Nunungan were unable to get the double majority votes needed for then to break away from Lanao del Norte and be included in the soon-to-be-established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

While all six municipalities voted to be part of the new region which will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the rest of Lanao del Norte said "no" to the proposal.

Here is the complete breakdown of votes of each of the six towns, according to Comelec:



Yes: 8,553

No: 3,038

Provincial vote for Baloi separation:

Yes: 73,164

No: 154,553



Yes: 10,765

No: 4

Provincial vote for Munai separation:

Yes: 71,148

No: 158,025



Yes: 1,802

No: 1,004

Provincial vote for Nunungan separation:

Yes: 79,935

No: 156,630



Yes: 7,840

No: 256

Provincial vote for Pantar separation:

Yes: 73,992

No: 157,705



Yes: 2,760

No: 1,373

Provincial vote for Tagoloan separation:

Yes: 78,849

No: 156,605



Yes: 6,276

No: 0

Provincial vote for Tangkal separation:

Yes: 75,364

No: 157,417


Voter turnout in the second plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law was at 68.8 percent, Comelec added.

Results of the provincial canvass will be transmitted to the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers at the Comelec headquarters in Manila.

Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Dimaporo was satisfied with the outcome of the "peaceful" plebiscite.

"Nagpapasalamat lang ako sa resulta ng plebisito kahapon because it was (a) really orderly and peaceful election," Dimaporo said Thursday.

"Those who voted for "no," sila naman ay tumutupad sa batas. Bumoto sila, nakita niyo naman sa resulta," she added.

[Translation: I'm very thankful for the results of the plebiscite yesterday because it was a really orderly and peaceful elections. Those who voted for "no," they just followed the law. They voted, and you can see the results.]

But the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) alleged there had been rigging of plebiscite results in some areas of the province.

UPBJ Deputy Secretary General Naguib Sinarimbo said the group will exhaust legal remedies to stop the inclusion of votes from areas where the supposed cheating took place.

Lanao del Norte Election Supervisor Joseph Cuevas, in response, challenged them to "prove the allegations."

"Maybe, then we will see the meat ng evidence nila (of their evidence) as to the allegation of cheating," he said.

'Respect the majority vote'

Dimaporo said she hopes the MILF, which she earlier claimed was behind the blasts on the eve of the plebiscite, would eventually respect the majority vote.

The governor also sent out a message to MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

"Ano ang gusto mong peace kung ganyan ang nasa utak mo na paghihiganti pa rin ang nasa dibdib mo," Dimaporo told reporters.

"Sana naman with what is happening now, the result of this plebiscite, sana naman i-respeto niya." 

[Translation: What kind of peace do you aim for if revenge is always on your mind? I hope with what is happening now, the result of the plebiscite, I hope he respects it.]

Comelec on January 25 announced the ratification of Bangsamoro Organic Law, which is envisioned to end the decades-long conflict in Mindanao.

Sixty-seven barangays (villages) in seven North Cotabato towns also participated in the second round of the plebiscite, but election officials, as of publishing time, have yet to release the final vote count in the area.

When the areas covered by the BARMM are established, President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to appoint members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), which will include incumbent officials of the regional government.

The BTA will have legislative and executive powers during the transition period. It will be considered the Bangsamoro government during the transition and will have exclusive powers over budgeting, justice, agriculture, human rights and tourism, among others.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.