ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said they have not received any report on possible threat against the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite on Monday, January 21.
“We are closely monitoring ‘yung possible spoilers, but so far, wala pa naman tayo namonitor (na threat),” he said in an interview during the send-off ceremony of police and military personnel tasked to secure the BOL plebiscite in Camp Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
Over 20,000 police and military forces were deployed to secure the polling centers while the others will be assigned in quick reaction teams, reactionary standby support force, and to the headquarters skeletal force.
“Today, your armed forces assure the people that we are all set and ready for this historic event. We have already identified the gaps and have addressed them accordingly through the Joint Peace and Security Council national level meeting last January 10,” Madrigal said.
“This has allowed us to instill necessary measures and initiatives to ensure the safe, free and orderly plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL,” he added.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde, for his part, assured that those deployed to secure the plebiscite were the “best and finest” among their ranks.
Among those deployed in Maguindanao were the elite forces from the Special Action Force who were keenly trained particularly for anti-terrorism operations.
But Major General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, reminded the government troops to give high respect on human rights during their law enforcement operations.
The first plebiscite ratification of the BOL will be held on January 21. It will cover the entire Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato.
The second will be held on February 6 for the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.
The BOL creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, whicl will replace the Armm. (SunStar Philippines)