The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on Tuesday, February 12, suspended the canvassing of votes for the second round of the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite in the four municipalities in North Cotabato — Midsayap, Cabacan, Pikit and Pigkawayan.

“Considering that the reports of the working groups, it is clear that we cannot finish the tabulation today, I think we have to declare a recess and we will reconvene tomorrow at 2 pm,” Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said as reported by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The election commission decided to suspend the canvassing because the certificates of canvass from the four municipalities were not verified yet. The certificates of canvass from Lanao del Norte and two other municipalities in North Cotabato — Carmen and Aleosan have been canvassed.

This is the second time the election commission paused the canvassing of votes for the February 6 plebiscite. The first suspension was announced last Monday after the COMELEC only canvassed 20 percent of the total votes.

Duterte urges rebels: Bury your weapons

As the Bangsamoro interim government takes into position, President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged those in the region to bury their weapons since he does not intend to take ownership of the government.

“Hindi man akin ‘yan. Atin itong gobyerno. Be a part of it. Okay na ‘yung armas mo, ilibing mo na ‘yan. Hindi mo kailangan (The government is not mine. This government is ours. Be a part of it. You can bury your weapons. You won’t need them),” Duterte said as reported by Rappler.

“Isang putok niyan, gulo, pero kung tahimik tayo, mag-usap tayo at maibigay naman ‘yung gusto niyong tulong na dapat naman sa inyo (Just one shot and there will be chaos, but if we’re just quiet, we can talk and we can give you the help that should be given to you),” he added.

“Mamumuhay tayo ng payapa, walang pasikat-sikat. Wala ‘yung warlord-warlord na may armas. Ah letse! Kayo dapat ninyong – put a stop to it (Let us live in peace, with no one lording over us. No more warlords with arms. Fools! So you should put a stop to it),” he said.

The president expressed his approval of the ratified Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) which he deemed as “one of the greatest developments that happened in this country.” He said that he is “glad that it has succeeded and I am inviting everyone here — join us in government.”

“Mabuhay ang BOL! Mabuhay ang Maguindanao! Mabuhay si Murad (Long live the BOL! Long live Maguindanao! Long live Murad)!” the president said as he referred to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Murad Ebrahim.

Palace warns Cotabato mayor against BOL petition

Amid triumphs in the said organic law, Malacañang on Tuesday, February 12, addressed Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Sayadi regarding her plan to file a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) as she claimed that the government and military officials conspired with the MILF to include Cotabato in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“They can always file appropriate charges regarding their claims. But remember that there is still a pending petition before the SC questioning the constitutionality of the BOL. If the SC, for instance, decides that it’s unconstitutional, that would render moot and academic all moves, including invalidation of (the) plebiscite,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said as reported by The Philippine Star.

Sayadi questioned the voting turnout with regards to the inclusion of Cotabato City in the BARMM. It received a “yes” vote of 36,682 votes and 24,994 “no” in the voting held last January 21.

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