In a press conference held at Basilan Business Hotel at around 3pm today, Comelec Commissioner Antonio Kho said voter turnout in the Province of Basilan reached 63%, while the Province of Tawi-Tawi recorded 76%. He said that with these initial results, the support from the people is “overwhelming.”
Asked on the voter turnout in Sulu, Commissioner Kho said: “Mababa yung turnout in the sense that less than 50%, but that was at around 10am. We have not received the latest information. Nevertheless, we want to assure the people that there is no minimum number of participants to make a plebiscite valid.”
With less than 50% voter turnout, Commissioner Kho said there was no failure in Sulu.
“Assuming that, for the sake of argument, it is less than 50%, it doesn’t mean that there is a failure in the area. There are certain circumstances probably present in Basilan vis-a-vis Jolo, but hindi namin nagiging issue iyon as to the validity of the results of the plebiscite,” he added.
Lieutenant General Dela Vega explained: “Yung 20% na report sa Sulu, that is coming from Mainland Jolo. Because of adverse weather conditions, nadelay iyong pagtransport ng mga election paraphernalia and even the transmission of reports sa mga island municipalities.”
“Even with those election-related incidents, they did not, in any way, affect the overall turnout of the plebiscite. We have recorded a high voter turnout in most of the ARMM provinces while we await the actual data from Sulu. That is a manifestation that the situation has been very peaceful today,” he added.
Commissioner Kho said, on whether a proclamation will be held: “We have to wait for the February 6 plebiscite. But for the one that was conducted today, definitely, we will start counting. Magkoclose na tayo ng 3 o’ clock.”
“So far, okay naman ang turnout natin sa mga areas covered by the plebiscite. We hope we can reach a majority of the turnout so that we could get some sentiments of our people, whether they agree to be included sa pag-adopt ng batas,” he added.
The Comelec Commissioner thanked the AFP and the PNP for supporting the plebiscite.