By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Tuesday said that while it sees the first day of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) Plebiscite as generally peaceful and successful, they cannot just sit and relax on their duties and responsibilities.
In a statement, AFP Public Affairs Chief Colonel Noel Detayato said they will immediately review their peace and security measures for the second day of the BOL plebiscite on February 6, based on the lessons of the voting last Monday, January 21.
“We’ll look at all the incident and after-activity reports coming from the ground to ensure that every observation and recommendation on our operations is considered and accordingly make all the necessary adjustments,” Detoyato said.
“The area for the February 6 plebiscite will be smaller, so the AFP can concentrate more forces to secure the smaller area covered by the 2nd BOL plebiscite,” he added.
Detoyato said the AFP is a dynamic organization and they are trained to respond, adapt, and adjust to the changes in the security environment.
The BOL plebiscite on Monday was held in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Tawi-Tawi under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato; and in the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.
More than 18,000 soldiers and policemen were deployed to secure the said areas.
For Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, including the barangays that filed their petitions to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) granted by the Commission on Elections, the plebiscite will be on February 6, 2019.
The BOL, which reflects all the signed peace agreements between the government and the Moro fronts, envisions to create a more powerful autonomous government with adequate financial resources that would be at par with other regions in the country.