ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM) beefed up its troops on the second day of plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
The second round of plebiscite on Wednesday (February 6) will cover the province of Lanao del Norte except Iligan City and in 67 barangays in North Cotabato.
Westmincom Commander Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega directed all ground commanders to remain on guard to maintain peace and order on the duration of the referendum.
Meanwhile, AFP Spokesperson Gerry Besana said the military is making sure to avoid a repeat of the violence that happened on the first day of plebiscite on January 21.
“Napag-usapan doon ang deployment ng tropa (and) how we can address ang katulad ng situation kung saka-sakali man para ang nangyari noong January 21 (maiwasan at) mas maganda (ito) ngayong February 6,” Besana said.
The Police Regional Office in Region 10 (PRO-10) deployed a total of 2,000 cops to augment the military.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) urged the residents of the concerned municipalities to go and vote despite the blasts in three towns on Monday (February 4) as they were intended to scare the people.
Authorities assured to protect the security of the voting public in areas where the plebiscite is taking place.
The Comelec is expecting some 300,000 voters in Lanao del Norte who will decide if they want the six municipalities in the province to join the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
These are the municipalities of Baloi, Pantar, Tagoloan, Munai, Tangkal, and Nunungan. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Dante Amento)
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday said it is currently mapping out ways on how to effectively provide technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as it undergoes transition.
In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año assured his department will provide assistance to the interim regional government of BARMM especially police support for the maintenance of peace and order as it undergoes the normalization phase.
“We have prepared a road map on how best we can assist the BARMM. We want to help in meeting the objectives of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and that is to allow the Bangsamoro to have a meaningful self-governance within the framework of the Constitution and territorial integrity of the country,” he said.
“We will make sure that the DILG exercises judiciously its general supervision over BARMM,” he added.
The DILG said normalization is the process through which communities affected by the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao can return to social life and pursue sustainable development livelihoods free from fear of violence and crime.
“The DILG will see to it that we implement what the law mandates, particularly the BOL, which says that the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall create a Police Regional Office in BARMM for the primary purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order,” Año said.
“We shall also see to it that members of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front shall be admitted to the police force within five years of the BOL’s ratification,” he added.
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ratified R.A. 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in places considered as core areas of the plebiscite.
“By virtue of the powers vested in it under the Constitution, the omnibus Election Code, Batas Pambansa 881, RA 11054 and other Election Laws, The Commission on Elections sitting En Banc as the National Board of Canvassers hereby proclaims RA 11054 otherwise known as The Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as deemed ratified,” read Comelec Commissioner Sheriff Abas.
The core areas include Cotabato City and four other provinces Lanao Del Sure, Marawi City, Basilan, Lamitan City and Tawi-Tawi where the highest number of “yes” votes was recorded.
Majority of votes favoring the BARMM was in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with 1, 540, 017 votes as compared to 198, 750 “no” votes.
Isabela City, meanwhile, preferred not to join the autonomy with only 19,032 “yes” votes as compared with 22, 441 ‘no’ votes despite the overwhelming number of “yes” votes in the entire province of Basilan with 144,460 and only 8,847 “no” votes.
Following the ratification, the Comelec en banc, acting as the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (NPBC), will submit the copy of the resolution on the ratified BOL to President Rodrigo Duterte, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“Ang next step natin gagawa ng report para i-submit sa Presidente, sa Senado at sa House of Representatives. Hinihintay naman natin iyong susunod na canvassing natin para naman sa inclusion doon sa mga lugar na gustong sumali doon sa Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” explained Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jiminez.
The second conduct of plebiscite will be on February 6 in the areas of Lanao del Norte except Iligan City, and the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit and Pigkayawan in North Cotabato.
Meanwhile, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the group “One Bangsa”, an advocate of the BARMM, expressed gratitude for the outpouring support to the BOL.
“We have a new government and another journey towards peace po ang tatahakin natin kaya lahat ng mamamayan ng Bangsamoro, makatutubo man, Moro man, Ma- Kristiyano man sama- sama po tayong isulong ang Kapayapaan hindi lang sa panahon natin kungdi sa susunod na henerasyon,” said Commissioner Susana Salvador-Anatayin of the BTC.
“Ito po ay hinintay namin halos limang dekada so ito na po ang pagtutuldok ng maatagal na kaguluhan diyan sa MIndanao kung saan alam naman po natin na ang gulo sa Mindanao ay kumitil sa buhay ng more than 100 katao at talagang ginastos ito ng bilyong- bilyong pesos ng ating Pamahalaan,” Alan Balangi, president of One Bangsa concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
The passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is being counted upon to resolve the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao region.
Under the BOL, a more powerful Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Cotabato City has spoken with a resounding “yes” vote in Tuesday’s plebiscite for the ratification of BOL.
This automatically includes Cotabato City in the formation of BARMM which will be headed by an 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) until the year 2022 when the first election for the leadership of a parliament will be held.
The BTA members are to be appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
It is expected that majority of the members will come from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Nevertheless, according to Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, the MILF still has bigger challenges ahead of them, particularly during the transition period.
“BTA pa lang, coalition government na yan eh. You need to talk with a lot of people, some of them are political enemies and they have to risk consensus. There’s a problem ng statesmanship. It’s not anymore na partisan ka lang simple. Meron kang gustong mangyari, ito yung shift sa thinking, you have to think as if ikaw na ngayon ang lider ng buong rehiyon,” explained Casiple.
For peace and conflict analyst, Francisco Lara Jr. the existence of private armed groups in Mindanao poses another challenge for the BTA.
“The power of clans, the power of armed groups to dictate developments at the local level in critical communities, remain. And that will be the biggest challenge as well for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority,” Lara said.
When the second plebiscite in other parts of Mindanao concludes on February 6, it will be confirmed which areas will form the new territories under BARMM. — Nel Maribojoc
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