Google map of Maguindanao province.

COTABATO CITY – The Maguindanao provincial government has set aside PHP100 million to fund the September 17 plebiscite to split the province into two.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has earlier set the referendum following the ratification of Republic Act (R.A) 11550, which mandates the creation of two provinces upon approval by the majority of the votes cast by the voters in 36 municipalities of Maguindanao.

“The people will decide through the plebiscite whether to ratify or not the law creating Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte,” said lawyer Cyrus Torreña, the provincial administrator.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on May 27, 2021, but the Comelec decided to delay the referendum last year to give more time to prepare for the May 2022 national and local elections.

Under the law, Maguindanao del Norte will be composed of the towns of Barira, Buldon, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Northern Kabuntalan, Parang, North Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Talitay.

Its seat of government will be Datu Odin Sinsuat town.

On the other hand, Maguindanao del Sur will be composed of Ampatuan, Buluan, Datu Abdulla Sangki, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Datu Montawal, Datu Paglas, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Guindulungan, Mamasapano, Mangudadatu, Pagalungan, Paglat, Pandag, Rajah Buayan, Sharif Aguak, Sharif Saydona Mustafa, Sultan sa Barongis, Talayan, and South Upi.

Its seat of government will be Buluan.

If the law is ratified, reelected Governor Bai Mariam Mangudadatu will act as governor of Maguindanao del Sur while Maguindanao vice governor-elect Bai Ainee Sinsuat will be named as governor of Maguindanao del Norte.

Torreña said the division of Maguindanao has many benefits particularly to Maguindanaons in far-flung areas.

“More infrastructure development will come and more basic services could reach the constituents,” he said. (PNA)