By Francis Wakefield
The Police Regional Office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Wednesday congratulated all the Security Forces deployed to ensure the safe, orderly and peaceful conduct of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) Plebiscite last Monday, January 21.
FLYING VOTER – An alleged flying voter (center) gets punched after his arrest during the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) at a polling place in Cotabato, southern Philippines, January 21, 2019. An estimated two million people in the Muslim provinces cast their votes to ratify the passage of the BOL which aims to give Muslims control of the autonomous region and allow them to form an elected parliament and administration in Islamic-majority areas. (EPA-EFE/Mark R. Cristino)
ARMM Police Regional Office (PRO) Director Police Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares, said the people have exercised their political rights to vote with the confidence that Security Forces will be there to ensure their safety.
Mijares said base on their assessment; they have recorded zero crime incidents during the conduct of the plebiscite.
"With your dedication and passion to answer our call of Service, except for one arrest for violation of the gun ban, we have recorded a Zero crime incident in relation to the conduct of the plebiscite," Mijares said.
"Again congratulations for a job well done, our Forces have once again made sure that peace will reign in this region of Muslim Mindanao," he added.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said that it will immediately review their peace and security measures for the second day of the BOL plebiscite on February 6, based on the lessons of the voting last Monday.
AFP Public Affairs Chief Colonel Noel Detoyato, said while it sees the first day of the BOL Plebiscite as generally peaceful and successful, they cannot just sit and relax on their duties and responsibilities.
"We'll look at all the incident and after-activity reports coming from the ground to ensure that every observation and recommendation on our operations is considered and accordingly make all the necessary adjustments," Detoyato said.
"The area for the February 6 plebiscite will be smaller, so the AFP can concentrate more forces to secure the smaller area covered by the 2nd BOL plebiscite," he added.
Detoyato said the AFP is a dynamic organization and they are trained to respond, adapt, and adjust to the changes in the security environment.
The BOL plebiscite on Monday was held in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Tawi-Tawi under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato; and in the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.
More than 18,000 soldiers and policemen were deployed to secure the said areas.
For Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, including the barangays that filed their petitions to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) granted by the Commission on Elections, the plebiscite will be on February 6, 2019.
The BOL, which reflects all the signed peace agreements between the government and the Moro fronts, envisions to create a more powerful autonomous government with adequate financial resources that would be at par with other regions in the country.