DND won’t recommend BOL poll suspension despite Jolo blasts

MANILADefense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday he would not recommend the postponement of the second Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite on February 6 despite the twin explosions that hit a church in Jolo, Sulu over the weekend.

"No. Because malayo naman ito sa mga pinangyarihan. Malayo sa Zamboanga, malayo sa Basilan, plus remember these six municipalities in Lanao del Norte. Wala namang nakikitang kaguluhan diyan, in connection with the BOL plebiscite. Pati na yung 67 barangays sa North Cotabato, we don't see any problems there (The area where the blasts occurred is far from where the plebiscite will be held. It is far from Zamboanga, far from Basilan, plus remember these six municipalities in Lanao del Norte. We don't see unrest there, in connection with the BOL plebiscite. And also the 67 barangays in North Cotabato. We don't see any problem there)," Lorenzana said in a press briefing.

He said a more solid reason for the Jolo bombing is the fact that military units in Sulu are cracking down hard on Abu Sayyaf elements in the province.

"Wala naman sigurong connection sa BOL. Ang isang reason na binigay sa atin ng military sa Sulu ay continuous operation sa kabundukan ng Jolo at nako-corner natin yung mga Abu Sayyaf doon (It has nothing to do with the BOL. One reason which was given to us by the military in Sulu is the continuous operation in the mountains of Jolo where they were able to corner Abu Sayyaf brigands). It could be diversionary tactics," the defense chief said.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana said he has yet to see any connection between the twin bombings in Jolo, Sulu and the grenade-throwing incident at the Zamboanga City mosque at 12:20 a.m. Wednesday that left two persons dead and three others wounded.

"Wala naman kaming makitang connection kasi dahil even in the past na binobomba yung mga churches natin sa Davao and Cotabato. Wala namang naggagantihan after that. Yung connection na baka may gantihan, wala. Sabi naman ni Presidente nun sa Jolo, Christians and Muslims have been co-existing for almost 100 years. Wala namang alitan dun (We do not see any connection because even in the past, there had been incidents of church bombings in Davao and Cotabato and there was no retaliation afterwards. As the President said before, in Jolo, Christians and Muslims have been co-existing for almost 100 years. There has been no dispute there)," he added.

Sunday's twin blasts at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral occurred barely a week after the first BOL plebiscite on January 21.

Sulu was the only province of the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao that voted against the measure which seeks to create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The second BOL plebiscite will be held in the province of Lanao del Norte, except Iligan City; the municipalities of Aleosan, Carmen, Kabacan, Midsayap, Pikit, and Pigkawayan in the province of North Cotabato; and the 28 barangays to be included in the region.

The military has deployed more than 10,000 troops and support units to help secure the BOL plebiscite, alongside the Philippine National Police. (With reports from Darwin C. Pesco, OJT/PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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