The Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared on Wednesday, February 6, that the second leg of plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in Mindanao was successful despite the bombings in Lanao del Norte.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that despite the security concerns in the two voting areas— Cotabato and Lanao del Norte, the voter turnout is around 75 percent.
“We expected a lower turnout due to apprehensions because of security concerns in some places. But people are coming out. They do not come in droves like in the previous elections but the stream of arrivals was steady,” Jimenez said as reported by The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“So far, it’s showing up to be very successful elections. Of course, if something happens at the very last minute, that very last minute event is what’s going to define the whole exercise. But with caution in mind, yes it is successful so far,” Jimenez added as reported by The Philippine Star.
The election spokesperson said that they could not determine for certain if the bombings were election-related. However, he noted the impeccable timing as it occured a day before the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Jimenez said that despite the persistent rumors of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters entering the provinces, no untoward incidents were reported. He noted that they are verifying these rumors but in the meantime, the local government units are on alert and the military and police are taking steps to secure the voting.
The elections were held in 67 villages in Cotabato and six towns in Lanao del Norte to determine whether those municipalities would become part of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
A total of 7,312 police personnel secured 4,479 polling precincts in the two provinces.
Palace calls bombings “acts of cowardice”
Malacañang on Tuesday, February 5, condemned the explosions calling it “acts of cowardice.” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the people will not be intimidated from turning out for the plebiscite.
“(The explosions were) acts of cowardice on the part of those who resist change and want to perpetuate the climate of fear, hopelessness and poverty among the Bangsamoro people and the Christian inhabitants in Mindanao,” the spokesperson said.
“The road to lasting peace in that region is not without obstacles strewn by those who foment disunity and who purvey the status quo. We shall not be waylaid by the twin forces of obstruction and destruction,” Panelo added.