Zamboanga City to block bids to include barangays in BOL plebiscite

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The city government is set to oppose before the Commission on Elections petitions filed by some residents of island villages for inclusion in the January plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the city’s position against petitions by some residents of barangays Busay and Landang Gua in Sacol Island will be presented to the city council for approval.

The Comelec will hold a hearing on the petitions on Friday.
The local Comelec office said only around one percent of petitioners have affirmed their signatures on two other petitions filed by close to 1,000 residents of barangays Arena Blanco and Cawit.

Rep. Celso Lobregat, who opposed passage of the original Bangsamoro Basic Law in the 16th Congress, assured residents that Zamboanga City will not be part of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Zamboanga City is not part of the core territory of the proposed BARMM but the law allows the inclusion of “all other contiguous areas where a resolution of the local government or a petition of at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the area seeks for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification” in the plebiscite for the BOL.

City legal officer Jesus Carbon, a former judge, earlier said Zamboanga City is not contiguous with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, citing a Supreme Court decision in 1986 defining contiguous as “(a) physical contact, (b) touching along all or most of one side, and (c) near, next, or adjacent.”

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