POLICE and military troops have fully secured Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato as the historic second round of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite gets going today with security officials hoping that a positive result could bring lasting peace in the two provinces and the rest of Mindanao region.
Yesterday, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde and PNP Deputy Chief for Operations Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, the commander of Task Force BOL Plebiscite inspected the final police deployments in North Cotabato.
The two top officials also held a final briefing regarding the security preparations in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte with representatives from the Commission on Elections, the Armed Forces, other stakeholders and the Police Regional Office 12 headed by Chief Superintendent Eliseo T. Rasco.
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Bernard M. Banac said Gen. Albayalde will also visit some voting centers today to ensure that the BOL plebiscite will run smoothly and safely. The PNP chief likewise directed all Regional Directors of neighboring Police Regional Offices to provide strong border control and checkpoints to ensure that no ‘spoilers’ from other areas will disrupt the voting.
Rasco said they have stepped-up measures to prevent the flow of illegal weapons and other tools that could be used to disrupt the holding of the second round of the BOL plebiscite in in the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in Lanao del Norte and in 39 barangays in the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pigkawayan and Pikit in North Cotabato.
Gen. Albayalde said they will be using the same template they applied during the first BOL plebiscite in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and in the cities of Cotabato and Basilan last January 21.
The PNP will be fielding a much smaller contingent of 3,029 policemen in 588 polling centers in the concerned areas.
Since the start of the gun ban in the region, police have already confiscated 16 firearms and a grenade. Rasco called on his men to see to it that they will account for all ‘instruments of violence’ that will disrupt the mid-term polls.
Rasco said four of the weapons were seized by the police in Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces while 12 others were recovered in Cotabato City, South Cotabato and General Santos City. A grenade was also recovered by the Cotabato police during the period.