It’s final: Cotabato City part of BARMM

January 12, 2023 Hector Lawas 142 views

THE Supreme Court (SC) has unanimously upheld the inclusion of Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during a plebiscite in 2019.

On January 21, 2019, a plebiscite was held to determine whether Cotabato City should be included in BARMM.

Based on the “Certificate of Canvass of Votes,” 38,682 individuals voted in favor of the inclusion, while 24,994 voted against it.

Because of this, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the incorporation of Cotabato City in BARMM.

This prompted petitioners Amil P. Sula, Gaspar S. Asi, and Hussein K. Malik, Sr., to file a petition before the SC with the application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and “Writ of Preliminary Injunction” on February 28, 2019.

The petition questioned the conduct of the plebiscite, the inclusion of Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and the ratification of the Organic Law.

In dismissing the petition, the SC ruled that Comelec complied with the requirements of the BOL in conducting a referendum.

The SC noted the constitutional mandate of Comelec to “guarantee the proper exercise of the right of suffrage,” which the high court will not interfere with if there is no grave abuse of discretion.

The SC added that 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 SC said.