Comelec defers canvass of votes in Bangsamoro plebiscite for 2nd straight day

Credit to Author: The Manila Times| Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019 12:20:48 +0000

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc, sitting as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (NPBC), deferred its counting for the second straight day as it has yet to receive copies of the certificates of canvass (CoCs) from the areas that voted on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) even after poll officials from Sulu and Cotabato City have tallied the results.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, from Cotabato City, told reporters that the NPBC would recovene at 2 p.m. on Thursday when some of the CoCs from areas where the plebiscite was conducted have arrived at the Comelec central office.

Based on official results released by the regional board of canvassers, the “no” votes won in the province of Sulu with a total of 163,526, while the “yes” votes have 137,630.

But even as Sulu did not ratify Republic Act  (RA) 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm), the province would still become part of the Barmm if the “yes” votes would prevail in the January 21 and February 6 plebiscites.

Under RA 11054, the Barmm will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is composed of the provinces of  Sulu, Basilan,  Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi.

Jimenez said that Sulu was part of the ARMM, which voted as a region in the plebiscite.

In Cotabato City, the “yes” votes won with a total of 36,682 as against 24,994 “no” votes.

Discrepancies were noted, however, in the figures that appeared on the CoCs of both Sulu and Cotabato City.

The CoC from Sulu indicated that the province had a total of 375,137 registered voters but only 301,196 actually voted. It also showed that there were   137,630 “yes” votes and 163,526 “no” votes or a total of 301,156, which did not tally with the 301,196 who actually voted or a difference of 40 votes.

The CoC from Cotabato City showed a disparity of 22,649 votes. The CoC indicated that of the  71,963 registered voters,  39,027  actually voted.  But the total count of “yes” and “no” votes was only  61,676.

Jimenez said that there was  “clerical” error in the CoCs from Cotabato City and Sulu, adding that they will be corrected during the national canvassing at the Comelec office.

“We have official records to prove that there was a clerical error,” he added.

In a related development, Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, in a radio interview, said that she would file a protest against the results of the plebiscite, claiming that there was massive disenfranchisement of voters.

She said that some 100 teachers were not able to serve as board of election inspectors because they were allegedly intimidated and harassed a day before the plebiscite, and were replaced by people who were not voters of Cotabato City and known supporters of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

She said that registered voters were also intimidated by the presence of thousands of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members inside polling centers.

She claimed that the police and the military failed to control the influx of non-voters. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL


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