MARAWI — The plebiscite to create 2 barangays in Marawi City was free from any untoward incident, the Commission on Elections said on Saturday, a few hours before the polls closed in the once battle-torn city.
The plebiscite was held to determine whether or not some 16,000 residents of Marawi were in favor of dividing a populated evacuation area into two barangays, namely Barangay Boganga II and Barangay Datu Dalidigan.
“Wala tayong untoward incident, walang kahit anong insidente na nagkakaproblema,” said Comelec chairman George Garcia, who flew to Marawi City to monitor the plebiscite.
“Kahit sa bawat presinto wala talaga, except yung haba ng pila ng mga kababayan natin,” he said.
“Kahit mahaba ang pila, pinagtitiyagaan, pinagtitiisan ng mga kababayan natin basta makaboto,” he added.
While Marawi City was once home to the Maute terror group, the plebiscite showed that “democracy is alive in Marawi City,” Garcia said.
“The fact po na ang inyong lingkod kasama po ang Commissioner Ernest Maceda at ang ationg mga opisyal ng Commission on Elections ay nandito, umiikot… isa lang ang ibig sabihin, kumpiyansa kami sa nailatag na security preparations ng Armed Forces of the Philippines, ng Philippine National Police, lalong lalo na ang provincial office ng Lanao del Sur,” he said.
The Comelec is not inclined to extend the closing of polling precincts scheduled at 3 p.m., its chairman said.
“Wala tayong nakikitang dahilan upang mag-extend,” he said.
“Mga bandang alas-6 ng hapon, pinakamahaba na yung alas-7 ng gabi ay magkakaroon na ng result at malalaman na natin kung nanalo ba ang yes o nanalo ba ang no,” he added.
Garcia said he expects voter turnout to be at 92 percent.
If the “yes” vote wins in the plebiscite, Marawi city will have 2 new barangays, but its officials are not expected to be elected in the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October, the Comelec chief explained.
“Maaaring hindi muna sila makakasama sapagkat wala naman po tayong special registration of voters [for the new barangays,” he said.
The registration of voters of the BSKE elections ended in January 2023.
“Minarapat naming paagahin ito upang lahat ng mga issue ukol sa disqualification, patungkol sa mga nuisance candidacies… gusto na po ng inyong Commision en banc na maresolve na ito ng maaga bago pa man mag-eleksyon ng October 30,” Garcia said.
The registration of voters for the 2025 mid-term elections will open in February 2024, he said.