Today, November 20, the administrative supervision of the 63 barangays of Province of Cotabato have been turned over to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Sixty seven barangays in six towns particpated in the plebiscite early this year but only 63 barangays agreed to join BARMM.
Of the 63 barangays in Cotabato, 22 which have been carved out from the Moro-dominated town of Pikit. Only Barangay Balatican of the 23 villages did not vote for the inclusion during the plebiscite. Before the formal handover, Pikit used to have 42 barangays.
Originally, there were 39 barangays that have been included in the proposed territory of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
But of the 120 petitions, only 28 have been approved by the Commission on Elections.
In the town of Pikit, 23 of its 42 barangays are included in the list of proposed territories. Eleven of which have voted ‘Yes’ in the 2001 plebiscite while the 12 new barangays have filed the petition for inclusion.
This means that more than half of Pikit’s total land area, which is about 604 square kilometers, would be carved out of the province if the ‘Yes’ vote will prevail. In this Muslim-dominated town, over 80% of the 47,000 voters are Muslims.
This development did not only redraw the political territory of North Cotabato but could also reshape the local political landscape in the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato come elections 2022.
But most importantly, the inclusion of these barangays would further strengthen the control of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over the resource-rich Ligawasan Marsh.