MANILA -- Majority of the youth voting in Wednesday's Bangsamoro plebiscite will allow six Lanao del Norte towns and 67 North Cotabato barangays to be included in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), survey results showed.
The latest survey by International Alert Philippines, a peace-building non-government organization, showed that 71 percent of the youth in Lanao del Norte are in favor of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and will vote for the inclusion of the municipalities of Tangkal, Tagoloan, Munai, Pantar, Nunungan, and Baloi in the BARMM.
Similarly, 83 percent of the youth in the municipalities of Pikit, Kabacan, Carmen, Midsayap, Pigcawayan, and Aleosan in North Cotabato, mother units of barangays seeking inclusion in the new political entity, will vote for inclusion.
However, Nikki de la Rosa, International Alert country manager, said that in contrast to the 57 percent youth voting population in the ARMM, only 45 percent of the voting population in these areas are from the youth.
De la Rosa said Tulunan town was not included in the survey, as this was a follow-up to the study that the group conducted in 2018 before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) granted the petition of Barangay Galidan in the said municipality to be included in the plebiscite.
International Alert had also released surveys in December 2018 and last January that predicted a win for the BOL based on the youth vote.
The “yes” votes won the first round of the BOL referendum held last January 21 in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Isabela City, and Cotabato City - which led to its ratification. Isabela City opted out of the measure.
Higher youth familiarity
International Alert statistician Angelo Casalan said the percentage of youth voting in favor of the BOL in Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato increased from both 53 percent in 2018 to 71 percent and 83 percent this year, respectively.
Casalan said the rise may be due to the increase in the youth’s familiarity with the measure – from 64 percent in 2018 to 98 percent in 2019 in Lanao del Norte, and 86 percent in 2018 to 98 percent in 2019 in North Cotabato.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been campaigning hard for the inclusion of the six Lanao del Norte towns in the BARMM.
On January 31, MILF commander Abdullah Macapaar, better known as Commander Bravo, released a Facebook video calling for a “yes” vote to pave the way for peace and development in the region. Bravo said a “no” vote might lead to violence in the province.
Francisco Lara, Jr., International Alert Senior Peace and Conflict Adviser-Asia, however, noted that the fewer “yes” votes in the province compared to the North Cotabato towns may be attributed to the Dimaporo clan’s opposition to the inclusion of the six municipalities in the BARMM.
Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo had announced that she and local officials, including the province’s two district representatives, Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo and his father Abdullah, support the passage of the BOL but are opposed to the planned inclusion of the six towns because the province's Internal Revenue Allotment will be reduced.
She said this would affect the allocation of funds for towns that will not be included in the BARMM.
Young people in favor of the BOL and their inclusion in the BARMM in Lanao del Norte believe that terrorism, rebellion, corruption, implementation of Sharia Law, and poverty are the topmost pressing issues that the BOL needs to address.
“Terrorism, which rose from fourth to first place as the most pressing concern, was very much in the minds of the youth in January 2019, which could still be attributed to the concerns arising from the Cotabato City December 2018 blast,” Casalan said.
International Alert’s survey was conducted among youths aged 18 to 35 in Lanao del Norte, from January 11 to 16, and in North Cotabato from January 24 to 27. (PNA)