Tensions spark as day one of BOL plebiscite kicks off

Marje Pelayo   •   January 21, 2019   •   1587

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)

Comelec lauds orderly conduct of BOL plebiscite in Lanao del Norte, N. Cotabato

Marje Pelayo   •   February 6, 2019

Bangsamoro Plebiscite in Dilangalen Central Elementary School, Midsayap, North Cotabato | Comelec Twitter

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 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

Cotabato City makes history with ‘Yes’ to BOL referendum

admin   •   January 23, 2019

Proclaimation of the victory of ‘yes’ votes in the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in Cotabato City on January 21, 2019

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — It was an emotional moment for the people of Cotabato City when the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proclaimed the victory of ‘yes’ votes in the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

“The winner is ‘yes’ garnering 36,682,” hailed Cotabato City election officer Atty. Rommel Rama.

Excited residents outside the Shariff Kabungsuan Cultural Complex roared with joy when they heard the announcement.

Even those who served in the canvassing area became emotional as series of sleepless nights preparing for the referendum finally paid off.

Based on the final result of the canvassing from the City Board of Canvassers, 36,682 voted ‘yes’ while 24,994 voted ‘no’ to the ratification of BOL.

Despite delays, the Comelec was satisfied with the conduct of plebiscite.

“Nagkarron ng delay kasi ang mga teachers hindi agad narecieve dahil undermanned ang office namin,” Rama explained.

Residents in areas included in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) hope their votes will not be in vain as they aspire for developments under the new law.

It was a historic decision for the people of Cotabatao City after years of resistance to autonomy.

The city twice rejected the proposal in two plebiscites held in 1989 and 2001. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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