MANILA – All doubts on the inclusion of Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have been put to rest, thanks to the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) that upheld the result of the 2019 plebiscite conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) welcomed the decision, promulgated Jan. 10 and announced two days later, that nullified the temporary restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction petition filed on filed by Amil Sula, Gaspar Asi and Hussein Malik Sr. against the Comelec on Feb. 28, 2019.
"The said decision of the SC en banc should finally put to rest questions regarding the legality of the conduct of the plebiscite held on Jan. 29, 2019 to determine the inclusion of the City of Cotabato in the BARMM and the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL)," Galvez, the Defense Secretary and Presidential Peace Adviser, said in a statement on Saturday.
Galvez said it is worth noting that the SC decision ruled that Comelec fully complied with the requirements of the BOL in the conduct of the plebiscite and gave credibility to the constitutional mandate of the poll body to ensure the Bangsamoro people’s right to suffrage.
"The Supreme Court’s decision upholds the sovereign will of the people of Cotabato City to chart the socio-political and socio-economic course of their beloved homeland. The 38,682 votes are concrete proof that the people of Cotabato City want to be part of the growth and development of the BARMM, one of the fastest-growing regions in the country," Galvez said.
Another 24,994 voted against Cotabato City’s inclusion.
The SC said “the petitioners failed to substantiate with the necessary evidence their allegations of fraud in the conduct of the plebiscite.”
“The mere allegation that the inclusion of Cotabato City in the newly-formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was not the true intention of the voters of Cotabato City will not persuade this Court to overturn the actions of the Commission on Elections,” the decision read, as quoted by the SC Public Information Office.
With the decision, Galvez called on local and BARMM leaders to continue to work together and sustain the economic growth and progress of the region.
“This is, after all, the true spirit of the BOL, which is to ensure that the Bangsamoro people -- regardless of tribe, religion or belief -- are able to partake of the dividends of genuine peace and sustainable development under a democratic, just and humane society,” he said. (PNA)