MANILA – The New Year’s Eve blast in Cotabato City – which killed two people and injured 45 others – could be due to the looming election for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Philippine Army said Wednesday.
The BOL would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region governed by the Bangsamoro Parliament elected by the Bangsamoro Region’s inhabitants.
It would also grant the Bangsamoro Region 5 percent of the net national internal revenue collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs as block grant, on top of at least P5 billion worth of Special Development Fund for the Bangsamoro Region every year for the next 10 years, starting 2019.
The BOL plebiscite will be held on Jan. 21 for the voters within ARMM areas, Isabela City in Basilan and Cotabato City.
Those residing in Lanao del Norte except Iligan City and six North Cotabato municipalities, on the other hand, will vote on Feb. 6.
“May mga tinitingnan tayong iba pang anggulo, hindi lamang ‘yung Daulah Islamiyah terror group. May election fever na tayo ngayon. ‘Yung plebisito, may intense rivalry kasi among politicians supporting and against the BOL,” Major General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said.
At least 2.8 million voters are expected to cast their votes on the plebiscite based on the records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“Itong intense political rivalry can also be a factor; it is part of the equation. Dito kasi, palakasan ng pwersa. Kung sino yung malakas, then he will prevail,” Sobejana added.
Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas made a promise last Dec. 21 that the looming BOL plebiscite will be fraud-free and peaceful.
Another possibility that the police are looking into is the communists’ extortion of business owners since the Cotabato City blast wherein an improvised explosion device went off happened in front of South Seas Mall in Cotabato City. (With a report from GMA News/PN)