PNP, AFP deployed to ensure a peaceful referendum
More than 20,000 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were deployed to ensure a peaceful plebiscite on Monday in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.
Of this number, 10,000 were deployed to secure various polling precincts while battalions of the PNP Special Action Force and those from PNP Calabarzon and Central Luzon are on standby for any eventuality, said DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.
This is to ensure that no “peace spoilers” sabotage the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite and in the event that communist terrorists, violent extremists or anti-BOL groups try to “wreak havoc and disrupt an all-important endeavor for peace in Mindanao,” Año added.
“As much as the BOL is our ticket to a peaceful Mindanao, the plebiscite also poses as an opportunity for communist terrorists, extremists and anti-BOL factions to sow violence and prevent the voting from happening. Thus, all hands are now on deck to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of the plebiscite,” he said.
PNP officers shall also serve as Board of Election Inspectors should the peace and order situation so require. Elements of the PNP have been trained by the Commission on Elections for this purpose in previous national and local elections.
The AFP likewise tapped the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other groups to help in securing the orderly conduct of the plebiscite.
The BOL, once ratified, will replace the ARMM with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The first BOL plebiscite covered ARMM and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato. A second plebiscite on Feb. 6, 2019, will focus on the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.
Malacañang declared Jan. 21, 2019, as a special (non-working) holiday “in order to give the people of the ARMM, Isabela City and Cotabato City the opportunity to actively and fully participate in the plebiscite and exercise their right to vote.”#