COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) lauded the high voter turnout in the first day of plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
The plebiscite was held on Monday (January 21) in seven major areas in Mindanao namely Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and in the cities of Isabela and Cotabato City.
Despite a number of reported tensions erupting, Comelec Commissioner Atty. Antonio Kho Jr. said the overall conduct of the plebiscite was orderly and there were no major threats or violence recorded in participating areas.
“So far naman okay naman yung turnout natin sa mga areas covered by the plebiscite,” Kho said.
“We hope we can reach at least man lang majority ng turnout so that we could get some sentiments of our people whether they agree to be included sa pag-adopt doon sa batas sa BOL,” he added.
On the eve of the plebiscite, two grenade explosions were recorded in Cotabato City though the authorities said the incident might not be related to the the plebiscite.
“Ang tinitingnan natin of course possible na something personal and the other thing is pwedeng parang manakot. Although sabi ko nga kung mananakot ng tao probably sa labas dapat itinapon ito,” explained PNP Chief DG Oscar Albayalde.
Before the start of the voting, pro and anti BOL advocates briefly clashed at Cotabato City Institute due to alleged vote buying.
Despite this, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command and the Philippine National Police (PNP) observed the high turnout of voters even hours before the voting closed.
“As of today, none in my area na may umayaw na BEIs so therefore lahat ng BEI ay deployed teachers,” noted PCSupt. Emannuel Luis Licup, Director of PRO-9. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Dante Amento)