FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT. Lawyer Cyrus Torreña, Maguindanao provincial administrator, speaks before members of Maguindanao Sangguniang Panlalawigan Monday (Aug. 15, 2022) to solicit their support on the ratification of Republic Act 11550 dividing Maguindanao into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur. The creation of the new provinces aims to deliver faster and more efficient services to the people. (Photo courtesy of Maguindanao PIO)

COTABATO CITY – Officials of Maguindanao have appealed to all registered voters to come out and vote on the Sept. 17 plebiscite that would divide the province into Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte.

Police said it has already established security plans to ensure that the political exercises would be peaceful and orderly.

“It is best for the future of the province if you come out and vote, whether yes or no, it is your right to decide,” Cyrus Torreña, Maguindanao provincial administrator, said in a radio interview Tuesday.

Republic Act 11550, the law that seeks to split the province in two, was signed into law by then President Rodrigo Duterte on May 27, 2021.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 10797 set the election period to commence Tuesday (Aug. 16) ahead of the referendum, including the start of the election gun ban.

On Monday, Torreña met with members of the Maguindanao provincial council to appeal for their support for the ratification of the law.

Representative Bai Dimple Mastura of Maguindanao’s first district said the addition of a new province would be beneficial to all constituents since they will no longer travel the long road to reach the current provincial capitol in Buluan town.

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

Maguindanao del Sur shall be composed of the towns of Buluan, Ampatuan, Datu Paglas, Datu Piang, Shariff Aguak, Pagalungan, Sultan sa Barongis, South Upi, Talayan, Salipada Pendatun, Mamasapano, Datu Montawal, Paglat, Guindulungan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Rajah Buayan, Anggal Midtimbang, Mangudadatu, Pandag, Datu Hofer, Datu Salibo, and Saydona Mustapha.

During the referendum, the Maguindanao police, as Comelec deputies, will provide security detail for the transport of ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia.

A joint security assistance desk will also be established for area control points and perimeter security in polling centers. (PNA)