An estimated 2.8 million people in southwest Mindanao may vote on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on Monday, January 21. The vote will determine if the current Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be reformed as Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and granted further independence. Monday's vote will be held in ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City (Basilan province). A second vote on Wednesday, February 6, will be held in Lanao del Norte, parts of North Cotabato, and other areas in Mindanao that have petitioned to join Bangsamoro. Violence and unrest during or following elections cannot be ruled out.
The BOL would repeal the act that created the ARMM and create a new political entity in southeastern Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. The act is part of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and is an attempt to quell other ongoing insurgencies in the area. Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago remains the location of several armed insurgent, criminal, and terrorist groups, including Abu Sayyaf.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor the situation, avoid polling stations and government buildings, remain vigilant for suspicious behavior and objects, and refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media.