Suspect in Cotabato mall bombing surrenders

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2019   •   1220

Site of the bombing incident that shook Cotabato City on New Year’s Eve

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – One of the suspects in the bomb attack on South Seas Mall in Cotabato City yielded to authorities on Sunday evening (January 6), according to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 12.

Police Regional Office 12 Director PCSupt. Eliseo Rasco said Salipudin Pasandalan was turned in by his relatives after they saw his image on television as one of the persons implicated in the blast on December 31 that killed two people and injured 34 others.

“Ongoing ang ating investigation and this morning ang directive ko doon sa SITG commander ay mai-file na ang kaso within today,” Rasco said.

Rasco noted, however, that Pasandalan still refuses to speak of the incident and he wants to be with his lawyers all the time.

“Wala pa tayong nakikitang grupo kase makikita natin kung sino ang personalities and group behind kapag meron na tayong nakuhang tao at meron na siyang binanggit na personalities and group,” the Director added.

But Rasco added that their evidence against Pasandalan are strong, based on the results of the investigation on the CCTV footage that was recovered in the blast site.

The CCTV footage showed a suspect placing the bomb at the counter at the second floor of the said mall.

“Kung makikita ninyo ang kuha ng CCTV sa Lotto outlet. Siya ang kumu-cover dito sa bata. Siya habang nilalagay noong naka-back pack ang second IED dito sa shelve ng Lotto card,” Rasco further explained.

Among the angles that the police are looking into are the retaliation of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) after Pasandalan’s young brother was killed in a military operation in December 27; intense political rivalry; and the participation of Dawlah Islamiya Group in the bombing. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Cotabato City mayor seeks to declare BOL plebiscite a failure

admin   •   January 25, 2019

Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi presenting to the media alleged evidence of vote-buying in connection with the BOL plebiscite.

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

Comelec to probe alleged harassment of teachers during BOL plebiscite

admin   •   January 23, 2019

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported their general assessment on plebiscite for January 22.

According to Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez, they did not see any big problem with the election day except for some delays in some polling centers.

The poll body also believes there are issues concerning the presence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Cotabato City during the plebiscite.

This is amid the reported the MILF’s alleged intimidation on some voters.

 “The presence of MILF inviduals or elements of MILF was known here in Cotabato City, but there were in civilian clothes, they had no arms and their presence was matched by an augmentation of the forces of the AFP,” said Jimenez.

Comelec will also investigate the alleged harassment on teachers who served as plebiscite committee members.

This is one of the reasons cited on why some teachers withdrew their services in the plebiscite.

“What is worrisome is someone take that information and used it to harass teachers who are simply doing their duty. ‘Yun ang nakakabahala, but we are looking into it to identify the person or persons behind that move,” said Jimenez. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

Tensions spark as day one of BOL plebiscite kicks off

Marje Pelayo   •   January 21, 2019

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) noted that the twin explosion at a compound of Judge Angelito Rasalan in Barangay Rosary Heights on the eve of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) could be a terror attack or because of personal grudge.

“Possible na something personal. And the other thing is, pwedeng parang manakot, hindi natin pwede masabing hindi rin terrorist group. Granada or probably IED pero hindi natin dini-discount ang possibility na member ng isang terrorist group,” noted PNP Chief DG Oscar Albayalde.

On the day of the plebiscite on Monday (January 21), tension sparked at Cotabato City Institute after two alleged flying voters were mauled by residents. One of them escaped.

The alleged flying voter was identified as Yasser Zacaria who denied the accusations and claimed that he was a registered voter in the area.

Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia-Guiayani-Sayadi was on site to address the voters’ concerns.

A voter approached the Mayor reporting a plebiscite committee member as altering his vote from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ in his ballot.

The said plebiscite member claimed she assisted the voter who was unable to read and write.

“Kanina noong naisulat na noong ilalagay pa lang, hindi na siya nag-complain. Hindi siya nagsabi sa akin,” the plebiscite committee member said.

“You are supposed to be members kayo ng board,” Mayor Sayadi said.

Meanwhile at Rojas National High School, an unexploded grenade was found in front of the school gate to which authorities immediately responded and promptly defused it.

At Canizares National High School, several teachers withdrew from their duties as plebiscite committee members, prompting military personnel to take over.

According to Comelec Regional Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), 24 out of 327 precincts started the voting later than scheduled.

The Comelec vowed to investigate all incidents that hampered the voting process particularly the allegations of flying voters in Cotabato City Institute and the issue of vote switching.

“Kung flying voters iyan, o nasa listahan natin, or she or he has the right to vote…we have to inquire on that,” explained Atty. Ray Sumalipao, the Comelec ARMM Regional Director.

“It’s the people who called them flying voters. We don’t know for sure yet if they are flying voter. From all the reports I’ve heard, it is basically people saying “We don’t know these people.” Therefore, they are flying voters, and they ganged up on them,” noted Director James Jimenez. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)


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