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Palace optimistic of BOL ratification

Kristina Maralit

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Malacañang on Tuesday expressed elation over the initial and unofficial tally of the votes in the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), saying it validates a Social Weather Station (SWS) survey result which showed that majority of Muslims nationwide support BOL.

The SWS survey revealed that 79 percent of Muslims nationwide favor the approval of the BOL which is meant to bring lasting peace in Mindanao.

In a statement yesterday, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo is hoping that the initial turnout of the plebiscite will result in ratification of BOL and bring peace and progress in the conflict-ridden region in the South.

“We hope that the aspiration of our Muslim brothers and sisters for a peaceful and progressive Bangsamoro region will commence its realization following the ratification of the BOL,” Panelo said.

Panelo cited the unofficial tally of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which revealed that as of 10 p.m. Monday a total of 306,695 residents in seven provinces voted in favor of BOL ratification.

The initial tally also showed that the highest voter turnout came from the province of Sulu with 86,720 voters supporting the ratification of the BOL. Of the seven areas that participated in the first day of the plebiscite, only Isabela City has the greater number of dissenters with 21,810 voting against the BOL as compared to 18,796 “yes” votes.

However, the Commission on Elections has deferred the canvassing of votes cast on Day 1 of the plebiscite pending the arrival of the Certificates of Canvass from ARMM, Sulu and Cotabato City.

A similar plebiscite will be held on 6 February in Lanao del Norte, except Iligan City, the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit and Pigkayawan in North Cotabato and all other areas adjacent to any of the Bangsamoro “core areas.”

On the other hand, the Palace likewise slammed Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison for alleging the BOL may be ratified because of the “coercive influence” of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Jose Maria Sison is once again talking nonsense by engaging in a delusional analysis on a political event that further exposes his blissful ignorance,” Panelo said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday denied allegations it resorted to intimidation and vote-buying to influence the plebiscite for the BOL that seeks to expand the autonomous Muslim region.

In a televised interview, MILF chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar stressed his group lacks funds to buy votes. He admitted that some MILF members went to Cotabato during the plebiscite on Monday, he clarified that those members went there only for “sightseeing.”

“We don’t believe in intimidation,” Jaafar said. “We want Cotabato to join the Bangsamoro government; that is correct, we cannot deny that. But we want it to be a member of the Bangsamoro government through a democratic way because we believe in a democracy.”

Jaafar made the clarification after Cotabato Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi claimed voters were scared off when “thousands” of MILF members trooped to her city during Monday’s plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL.

She also cited a grenade explosion on the eve of the plebiscite outside the house of Judge Rosalito Rasalan — a critic of the Bangsamoro law — who previously received threats on social media and a separate incident involving alleged flying voters.

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