(Eagle News) — Amid security concerns in Lanao del Norte, provincial governor Imelda “Angging” Dimaporo cast her vote early on February 6 at the second round of the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite.
Dimaporo is actively campaigning against the BOL and against the province’s inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
On the other hand, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is pushing for the BOL in Lanao del Norte, and is actively campaigning for a “yes” vote so the entire province will be covered by BARMM under BOL.
Because of this, security remain the prime concern of police and military authorities in the area.
Explosions were even reported in two Lanao del Norte towns a day before the February 6 plebiscite, raising tensions in the province set to decide whether to be included or not in the new autonomous region.
According to reports, explosions rocked the town of Kauswagan, particularly at the back of the municipal building, and the town of Lala.
-Ongoing probe on explosions-
Authorities are now investigating the incident which occurred a week after the deadly Jolo blasts that killed more than 20 people and injured at least a hundred others.
More than 2,000 soldiers and policemen were deployed in Lanao del Norte alone to secure the February 6 plebiscite.
-MILF commander’s message-
Abdullah Macapaar, also known as Commander Bravo of the MILF’s Northwestern Mindanao Front command had earlier hinted of possible violence if the “no” votes would win.
In a video message posted on social media, he had urged the people of Lanao del Norte to vote “Yes” to the BOL.
“Nakiki-usap ako na tayo ay magkakaisa sa kapayapaan at kaunlaran sa pamamagitan ng pagboto ng ‘yes’ para sa inclusion ng anim na munisipyo ng Lanao del Norte sa ARMM front”.
“Huling pananawagan at paki-usap ito sa inyong lahat dahil dito nakasalalay ang kinabukasan ng ating mga anak at ng Lanao del Norte”, said Bravo who added that he would consider it as a debt of gratitude if the Lanao residents would vote for BOL.
But he said that a “No” vote means a denial of their rights to live peacefully.
“Ang pagboto ninyo ng NO ay isang paglapastangan sa aming karapatan na makapamuhay ng mapayapa at tahimik,” the MILF commander said.
“Huwag ninyo kami bigyan ng dahilan na ipagpatuloy namin ang paghawak ng armas at pagtanim ng galit sa inyo, ayaw namin ng gulo”, he said.
MILF Northwest Mindanao Front counsel Atty. Salahoden Benhamza, however downplayed this apparent threat by Commander Bravo.
“Kung tutuusin natin, iyong birthplace niya ay hindi nasama sa core territory na isasama sana sa BARMM, pero bumigay siya ng compromise alang-alang sa kapayapaan,” Benhamza said.