ZAMBOANGA CITY — Police and military authorities succeeded in maintaining a peaceful atmosphere during the conduct of the plebiscite to split Maguindanao into two provinces — Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur.
Police Regional Office for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Director Pol. Brig Gen. John Gano Guyguyon said Saturday that voting started at exactly 7 a.m. in most of the polling precincts and has been going on smoothly.
Police and military authorities are ready to secure the safety of about 814,790 legitimate voter residents of Maguindanao.
According to Guyguyon, the Maguindanao Police Provincial Office deployed 1,570 PNP personnel to secure the safe conduct of the plebiscite to the 461 Polling Centers.
Guyguyon said the police in Maguindanao have not received any major reports about atrocities or harassment during the plebiscite until late in the afternoon yesterday.
PRO BAR’s Regional Reactionary Standby Support Force was also deployed to provide road security and Police visibility.
Maguindanao Provincial Police Office Director Pol. Col Roel R Sermese is supervising polling precincts throughout the 36 municipalities of Maguindanao.
The plebiscite yesterday in the province of Maguindanao was to ratify Republic Act 11550, which will divide Maguindanao into two separate and independent provinces- Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur.
In the plebiscite, Maguindanao del Norte will be composed of the municipalities of Barira, Buldon, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Northern Kabuntalan, Parang, North Upi, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura and Talitay.
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.
The designated capital for Northern Maguindanao will be Datu Odin Sinsuat while the designated capital of Southern Maguindanao will be Buluan.
The Commission on Elections said on Saturday that the Maguindanao plebiscite had an initial turnout of 56 percent.
Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said that they expect the turnout to increase before the voting centers close at 3 p.m.
He also noted that the Maguindanao plebiscite was one of the highest voter turnouts in recent history, where in the previous plebiscites, the voter turnout usually ranged from 28 to 35 percent.
Comelec BARMM Election Director Ray Sumalipao reported that no untoward incident has been reported during the voting hours.
The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections observed as of 1 p.m. that the conduct of the plebiscite has been smooth and peaceful, with most polling places opening on time, and with election paraphernalia and members of the different Plebiscite Committees complete in most polling places observed.
The Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police also reported that there are no untoward incidents have been reported.
Comelec chairperson George Garcia also called the observers to remain vigilant until the canvassing, as well as on the proclamation by late Sunday afternoon.
with Gab Humilde Villegas
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