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‘Vote, don’t be scared,’ Cotabato mayor tells people

/ 11:18 AM January 21, 2019
'Vote, don't be scared,' Cotabato mayor tells people

Plebiscite commitees in Bongao, Tawitawi are preparing for the distribution of ballot boxes. Maria Vema Gaticales

COTABATO CITY—The mayor of this city called on the people Monday to go out and vote despite harassment and grenade explosions that rocked the city on the eve of the plebiscite to ratify the law that will give the Moro Islamic Liberation Front full autonomy in the new Bangsamoro homeland.

“I just hope they are not scared. I am just worried about flying voters. But I want to tell them, don’t be afraid I will always be here for you. The military and police are here for you. They are here not to protect any entity but to protect the people and to see to it the voters can vote freely sans harassment and intimidation,” Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi told the Inquirer on Monday.

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“You can see the influx of the MILF without arms but they are intimidating in the eyes of the people. They flock here not just by the hundreds but by the thousands and they are not registered, voters … How would you interpret that? Would you not be intimidated?” she asked.

On Sunday night, two grenade explosions occurred inside the residential compound of Judge Angelito Rasalan, 53, Municipal Circuit Trial Court judge of Upi, Maguindanao, the brother of Aniceto Rasalan, executive secretary of Cotabato Guiani-Sayadi, according to Senior Supt. Michael Lebanan, acting police chief.

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There were no casualties in the explosion.

Around 2.8 million registered voters will ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law today. Under the BOL, four million Muslim Filipinos will be allowed to form an elected parliament and administration in Islamic-majority areas of southern Mindanao and nearby islands, where five decades of insurgency have left more than 100,000 people dead.

The law will give them control over many local government functions, including taxation and education, and allow Muslim Filipinos to incorporate Islamic law into their justice system. The MILF will retain control of the autonomous region until elections are held later this year./lzb

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Organic Law, BOL, Cotabato, Local news, mayor, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Plebiscite
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