Cotabato Mayor exposes alleged vote buying ahead of BOL plebiscite
Marje Pelayo • January 17, 2019 • 2411
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Days before the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), residents of Cotabato City were confused after they were asked to claim a certain identification card that entitled them to a certain amount of cash.
‘Mahid’, not his real name, was among those who received the ID which came from a citizens’ arm group campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in Cotabato City.
‘Mahid’ said he was surprised when his friend told him to claim an ID card which he never applied for. His friend told him that he would receive a certain amount if he claimed the ID and voted in favor of the BOL.
“Kung may ID ka may partial ng P200. Ibig sabihin lahat ng kumuha ng ID na ito, binigyan ng P200. Ang team leader is P1,000,” alias Mahid said.
“Ang sinabi sa akin is basta botohan mo ang ‘Yes,'” he added.
Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi immediately reported the incident and appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate the matter.
“This is vote buying,” she said.
The poll body, meanwhile, assured to act on the issue at the soonest possible time.
“I will look into this,” noted Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez.
The UNTV News and Rescue team tried to call the hotline number written on the ID card but the number does not seem exist. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)
Separate explosions ripped through Cotabato City and Libungan town in Cotabato province Sunday night (December 22), leaving 21 people injured, nine of whom are soldiers.
The first blast occurred at 6:00 p.m. on Sinsuat Avenue in Cotabato City after unknown assailants described as teenagers, threw a grenade at a military vehicle carrying the advance party for the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in the city on December 23.
The attack injured 7 civilians and 9 soldiers.
Not long after, a homemade bomb went off at 6:30 p.m. in the nearby town of Libungan in Cotabato province. Five people were wounded in the incident.
Another blast occurred at around 7:11 p.m. while a reporter on site was in the middle of airing flash reports. Nobody was hurt in the incident.
Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas said they are not discounting the involvement of the ISIS-linked local terror group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the series of attacks.
All entry and exit points in the city are currently on lock-down following the bombing.
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) lauded the overall conduct of the second plebiscite on Wednesday (February 6) for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.
The overall process went smoothly , according to Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jiminez, as voting proceeded ‘unhampered’ despite rains in Lanao del Norte and no untoward incidents were recorded in all other venues of the plebiscite.
There were no reports of plebiscite members withdrawing from their duties and all election paraphernalia were distributed accordingly in every polling precinct.
Jimenez added that voter turnout on the second day of plebiscite surpassed the poll body’s expected number of participants in the referendum.
“At least in some places, we’ve already received reports that the estimate is edging up to 75%,” Jimenez said.
Meanwhile, the police and the military remain on high alert because of alleged sightings of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters near some of the venues of the plebiscite.
The poll body, however, is coordinating with authorities to verify the reports.
“There are some places where there are some persistent rumors of armed men coming into the territories, supposedly or allegedly MILF Fighters,” Jimenez confirmed.
“We are trying to verify these rumors but, in the meantime, the Local Government Unit are on alert and the AFP and PNP are apprised of the situation,” he added.
The poll body also does not discount the bombing incident that happened in three separate areas in Lanao del Norte on Tuesday (February 5) on the eve of the second plebiscite.
“The investigation is still ongoing. We cannot definitively say that it was election related although again having said that the timing sort of makes it irrelevant whether or not it actually was intended to be election-related,” Jimenez explained.
After the official closure of the election process, the convening of certificates of canvass will proceed on Thursday (February 7) at the Palacio del Gobernador in Manila. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi has bared alleged irregularities in Monday’s plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
She also noted that members of the plebiscite committee were neither residents nor teachers of the city.
Sayadi found the situation questionable particularly because the members were BOL supporters.
“One factor din na yun, mali mali yung mga entries, kasi mga na-hire nila doon, ni hindi mga nakapag-training ng BEI’s (Board of Election Inspectors) kaya maraming problema sa precinct level pa lang,” she said.
She also cited allegations of ghost voters and incidents of intimidation by BOL supporters during the plebiscite.
“Eto yung mga pictures ng mga tao who are not residents of Cotabato City. Yung mere presence nila ng ganyan, talagang natakot ang mga tao,” said the mayor.
Her camp has already prepared the evidence needed to file a petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking to declare the plebiscite a failure.
“Pinag-uusapan nga namin although the petitions are already finished, we are going to file it next week,” said Sayadi.
The recent plebiscite witnessed Cotabato City’s historic “yes” vote to its inclusion in the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). — Nel Maribojoc
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