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UK issues travel warnings for Mindanao; asks citizens to be vigilant

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 2 January 2019 01:44 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British citizens against all travels to Mindanao following the bomb attack in Cotabato City on Monday (December 31).

The travel advisory covers all travels to western and central Mindanao as well as the Sulu archipelago citing ‘terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.’

“The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao, excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands, and to the south of Cebu province, up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism,” the advisory further read.

The FCO cited the December 26, 2018 public notice issued by the United States Transport Security Administration which highlighted poor aviation security at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Additional security measures are in place on flights departing from this airport to the UK. You should co-operate fully with security officials. The UK keeps aviation security measures under constant review, in conjunction with international partners and the aviation industry,” the FCO said.

The advisory stressed that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the Philippines, including in Manila” and these attacks can be carried out “at any time and anywhere in the country, including in places visited by foreigners, like airports, shopping malls, public transport, including the metro system, and places of worship.”

Thus, the UK government advises its citizens to “remain vigilant at all times and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.” – Marje Pelayo

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Cotabato City mayor seeks to declare BOL plebiscite a failure

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, 25 January 2019 05:53 PM

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

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Comelec to probe alleged harassment of teachers during BOL plebiscite

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 23 January 2019 10:58 AM

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

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Tensions spark as day one of BOL plebiscite kicks off

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, 21 January 2019 06:25 PM

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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