by Ali G. Macabalang
Voters in Maguindanao should go out and cast votes in the upcoming September 17 referendum to ratify or reject the splitting of their province proposed under R.A. 11550.
Their votes matter most for the future of Maguindanao. Reigning politicians rule all the time. The voice of the ordinary residents is unheard or ignored most of the time. Elections or plebiscites come occasionally for them to have a direct role in decision-making, courtesy of the right of suffrage.
The Commission on Elections, the police and military alongside other concerned groups are all set for the event, and had held coordination meetings meant to ensure peaceful, orderly and honest voting and balloting, according to lawyer Udtog Tago, the provincial election supervisor (PES) of Maguindanao.
In a recent interview with me and fellow veteran journalist Lolly Acosta over Manila-based DWIZ, Tago said barangay officials in Maguindanao were expected to stage information campaigns to educate resident-voters on the essence of the referendum and drum up favourable turnout on Sept. 17.
Media entities covering Maguindanao have not reported active and massive information drives in villages; neither had the provincial government engaged the media in educating and inviting the electorate.
I floated slogan-type social media messages about the forthcoming plebiscite. One of which was a query on whether or not Maguindanao voters are in favour of the creation of Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte out of the mother province,
As of press time, more than a dozen nitizens answered the question in the affirmative, with a few airing dissent. One of them asked me via messenger about my stand on the question.
I told the Facebook friend that I am not a resident or elector of Maguindanao, but I am concerned about the welfare of the majority of Maguindanaons. So, I expressed my view in favour of the provincial split, stating the following reasons:
1. Dividing Maguindanao will benefit the majority constituents in all development dimensions – socio-political, economics, administrative efficiency, and etc;
2. Creation two provincial governments will bring about more employment opportunities, more elective posts;
3. Each of the provincial governments will have more focused service deliveries in consonance with the saying that the smaller area of jurisdiction to manage, the better to manage;
4. R.A. 11550 prescribes for the creation of two capitol sites, thereby bring constituents closer to their powers that be; and
5. Such law will somehow resurrect the mothballed Shariff Kabunsuan province (constituting the first district of Maguindanao), during which the minority Iranun towns had enjoyed wider latitudes in governance.
There are many other benefits available in the creation of Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte.
The proposed Maguindanao del Norte shall comprise 12, namely: Datu Blah Sinsuat, Barira, Buldon, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, North Upi, Parang, Northern Kabuntalan, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Talitay. Datu Odin Sinsuat will serve as the northern capital town.
Maguindanao del Sur will comprise Ampatuan, Buluan, Datu Abdulla Sangki, Datu Anggal, Datu Hofer Ampatuan, Midtimbang, Datu Montawal, Datu Paglas, Datu Piang, Datu Salibo, Satu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay, Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Guindulungan, Mamasapano, Mangudadatu, Pagalungan, Paglat, Pandag, Rajah Buayan, Shariff Aguak, Shariff Saydona Mustafa, Sultan sa Barongis, Talayan, and South Upi.
The current provincial Buluan capital is retained as the seat of Maguindanao del Sur under R.A. 11550. (Comments and reactions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.)