The Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that Monday’s Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite was generally peaceful, thanks to the security provided by both the PNP and the AFP.
“There are a couple of incidents but generally it was peaceful. Everything went smoothly, and we expect that we will maintain the same level of safety and security until the end of the plebiscite and even beyond that,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said of Monday’s polls.
Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, director of the Police Regional Office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), also called the plebiscite “very peaceful”.
Among the security incidents reported were threats made against teachers in Cotabato city. At least 66 educators did not report to BOL voting centers because of these threats, which were reportedly received on Sunday night. This cause a delay in the conduct of the plebiscite in Cotabato City.
According to Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, spokesperson of the Police Region Office Soccsksargen, the teachers were replaced by police officers who had been trained to act as members of the Board of Election Inspectors.
The eve of the plebiscite also saw two explosions in the residential compound of Judge Angelito Rasalan of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Upi, Maguindanao. No casualties were reported for these incidents.
Police have said that a personal grudge may be the motive behind the explosions, however they are not discounting in their investigation that the attacks could be related to the plebiscite.
On Monday morning, just a few hours after the twin explosions, a fragmentation grenade was reported near a national high school in Barangay Rosary Heights 1, Cotabato City. A police bomb squad detonated the grenade safely.
A total of 85 firearms, 12 grenades, 589 bullets, and three bladed weapons were confiscated by police at election checkpoints between 6 am on January 13 to January 21.
If the BOL is ratified, it would abolish the ARMM and replace it with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Another BOL plebiscite is scheduled for February 6 for the six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and 39 villages in North Cotabato which petitioned for inclusion in Bangsamoro.
The PNP expressed confidence that the same level of safety and peace could be replicated in the next plebiscite.