Hawzah News Agency (Catobato, Philippiens) - Muslim Filipinos will cast their vote on Monday to ratify the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), a law that will pave the way for wider self-rule to the Muslim minority in the Philippines and is hoped to end the decades-old conflict in southern Philippines.
The Commission on Elections of the Philippines said a total of 2.8 million voters registered for the plebiscite.
Philippine Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano said approximately 10,000 soldiers and policemen were deployed to secure the polling centers.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said additional troops have been deployed in potential hotspots or areas where violence are likely to break out.
The plebiscite will be held first in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan province on Jan. 21.
The rest of the core territories will get to vote on Feb. 6.
If the BOL is ratified, it will replace the ARMM and create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and give it political and economic power, including greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, parliament and justice system.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who signed the BOL on July 26 last year, has expressed confidence the BOL will pass the upcoming plebiscite.
Duterte believed that the ratification of the BOL would solve the decades-old problem on Muslim rebellion in Mindanao.
On Friday, Duterte urged residents in the future Bangsamoro autonomous region to vote yes to the BOL.
"Your approval of this law will not only serve as an expression of your desire to end more than half-a-century of armed struggle in the region, and it will also serve as a testament to your determination to bring peace," Duterte told an assembly on Friday for the ratification of the BOL.
The BOL is the result of decades-long, on-and-off peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government.
The southern island group of Mindanao consists of main-island Mindanao, several small islands off the northern and southern coast, and the Sulu Archipelago in the west, which stretches to Borneo.