Youth vote clearly in support of the Bangsamoro Organic Law – Alert survey

Quezon City, Philippines: A significant majority of the youth in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will vote YES to the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). This is according to a first round survey conducted in October and November 2018 by peacebuilding NGO International Alert Philippines.

A repeat survey will be conducted in the first week of January or two weeks before the actual voting on January 21, 2019, to examine whether the same trends will hold.

The results were similar when young people were asked about their intentions to vote or not, and whether they resided within the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) or in those areas being targeted for inclusion under the new Bangsamoro.

Nikki de la Rosa, Alert’s country manager, reported that 89.4% of respondents aged 18 to 35 in the ARMM who have registered their intention to vote in the plebiscite will vote in favour of the BOL.

When combining all the youth in the region, whether they intended to vote or not, the result remains significant at 60.4% or nearly two-thirds of the sample.

“This is significant considering that the youth comprise 57% of the registered voters in the ARMM,” de la Rosa said.

When combining the respondents from the ARMM and those from other areas that are set to vote for inclusion in the new Bangsamoro political entity, 86.5% of the youth who intend to vote will vote yes. Close to 60% (59.8%) remain in favour, whether or not they intend to vote.

The data seems to suggest that getting more youth to vote will add to the base of support for the BOL.

Contentious jurisdictions

When zeroing in on specific jurisdictions, the survey reports that youth from Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao provinces show big support for the BOL, as do youth from all the towns in Lanao del Norte and the towns of Aleosan, Kabacan, and Pikit in North Cotabato.

A little more than half of the youth from the cities of Cotabato and Isabela are in favour of BOL at 56.8% and 58.8% respectively.

In contrast, more than half of youth respondents in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi and the towns of Midsayap, Carmen, and Pigkawayan in North Cotabato were each either not in favour or unsure of the BOL.

Francisco Lara, Jr., Alert’s Senior Peace and Conflict Adviser said that the data provides insight about former Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan’s petition filed at the Supreme Court for the issuance of a temporary restraining order against the BOL.

“The early trends suggest that the youth in Sulu may vote against the BOL, as the NO’s are already in the majority, though a large proportion of youth voters remained unsure. The survey validates the fears of the Sulu clans that the plebiscite gives them little room to opt-out of the Bangsamoro, since the counting of votes as a geographical bloc shuts out any possibility for exclusion.”

The youth were polarized on BOL’s impact in curbing recruitment of youth to rebel and ISIS-affiliated groups. Those who are not in favour of the BOL also disagreed that the measure would benefit non-Muslims.

“Our data suggests that those advocating for the BOL may consider putting more effort into explaining to young people how the law will weaken armed groups affiliated with ISIS, create jobs in government, encourage more investments in the Bangsamoro, and prove that it is not Moro-centric, but benefits non-Muslims, including indigenous peoples, as well,” de la Rosa explained.

International Alert’s survey was conducted from October 29 to November 19 with 614 youth in the provinces of the current ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, the towns of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan, and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte, and six towns in North Cotabato, 39 barangays of which are also included in the plebiscite. #