Peaceful plebiscite seen, but LPA could affect voter turnout

MARAWI CITY – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Lanao del Sur is confident the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) throughout the province will be peaceful but the low-pressure area affecting Mindanao might affect voter turnout.

Lawyer Allan Kadon, Comelec’s provincial head, said Sunday there is no expected violence during Monday’s plebiscite because of the non-existence of active opposition to the BOL. He added that the counting of votes would be easier and is expected to be completed by Tuesday.

The only problem seen by Comelec regarding the election is the possible low turnout of voters, given the bad weather, which is mostly foggy and rainy since last week.

“Fortunate ang Lanao del Sur kasi isang issue na lang ang sasagutin: Whether to ratify Bangsamoro Organic Law, unlike sa ibangprovinces na maraming opposition (Lanao del Sur is fortunate because there is only one issue to be addressed: whether to ratify BOL or not, unlike other provinces where there is a lot of opposition),” Kadon said.

The voting will be conducted manually. Ballots contain the choices “yes” and “no” for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Marawi City Hall employees line up the ballot boxes to be used in the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law on January 21. Photos by NEF LUCZON/PNA

After the election from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., the results will be sent to the Plebiscite Board of Canvassers, and then to the Comelec provincial offices.

Kadon said there may be plebiscite results available by Tuesday.

Lanao del Sur will have 1,984 clustered precincts and a total number of 554,552 voters.

The number of registered voters for the plebiscite was 200,000 less than the number of voters, who are registered for the national elections.

There will also be voting precincts in schools nearest to the temporary shelters that house internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Express lanes for persons with disabilities (PWDs), senior citizens, and pregnant women have also been set.

Kadon also said that teachers serving during the elections have undergone training and information drives have also been conducted by election officers since December, popularly called ‘pulong-pulong’.

A coordination conference was also conducted last Tuesday for the conduct of the plebiscite.

Jamalodin Basman Mohammad, barangay kagawad of Marawi City’s Barangay Panggao Saduc, said that about 800 residents in their barangay are registered voters for the plebiscite. He called on his constituents to go out and vote.

Given the weather conditions, he said it is possible that only half of the number would come out and vote and that the residents have already predicted a majority “yes” vote for BARMM, even if they do not come out to vote.

“Alam din ng mga boboto na ‘yes’ and lalabas dyan. So sasabihin nila ‘Bakit kailangan pa naming lumahok dyan, eh ‘yes’ pa rin naman ang mananalo? (The voters already know that majority will vote “yes’, so what’s the point of going?)” Mohammad said.

“Elections is a right to exercise their right to vote. Importante siya kay dugay na ni (BARMM) gipangayo sa Bangsamoro people. Dugay na ni (BARMM) siya gihulat (It is important because the people have long wanted to have the BARMM),” he added.  Riz Sunio and Nef Luczon / PNA