1st day of BOL plebiscite 'generally peaceful'

MAGUINDANAO. A police officer (right in foreground) patrols in the compound of an elementary school-turned-polling station in a referendum in Maguindanao on Monday, January 21, 2019. (AP)

POLICE officials said Monday, January 21, that the first day of plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) has been generally peaceful despite some glitches.

“Yes, very peaceful,” Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares said in a text message.

Over 100,000 people cast their vote for the ratification of BOL in Cotabato City and Isabela on Monday, January 21.

The voting started at 7 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m.

Armm Comelec Chief Rey Sumalipao said, though, that 72 teachers who were supposed to serve as election officers failed to arrive in the voting precincts, causing a delay in the voting.

He said the teachers failed to appear in their posts due to alleged intimidation received through text messages.

The teachers were instead replaced by police personnel.

A grenade was also found near three schools in Cotabato City ahead of the voting. It was, however, detonated by authorities and no one was hurt.

Two grenades thrown in the residence of Cotabato City-based Judge Angelito Rasalan also exploded on the eve of the BOL plebiscite.

The Philippine National Police said the motive could be personal grudge.

Several "flying voters" were also spotted near the polling centers. They were chased by residents but were able to escape by climbing through the walls.

One of them, a 17-year-old boy, was cornered and yielded several Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) identification cards.

The boy said he is not a resident of Cotabato City and that he opposed the ratification of the BOL.

Over 20,000 security forces were deployed in the region for the BOL plebiscite, which seeks to replace the Armm with Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).

Another voting will be held on February 6 and it will cover the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato. (SunStar Philippines)


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