Jolo, Zambo bombings won’t affect Feb. 6 BOL plebiscite: Palace

MANILA MalacaAang on Thursday said the bombings that took place in Mindanao the past week will not affect the next plebiscite on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on February 6.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo expressed confidence that the Bangsamoro people will still participate in the plebiscite, noting that Filipinos cannot be cowed by terroristic acts.

Yes, definitely. We are confident, yes, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

For a while medyo kakabahan lang sila, pero kapag nakita nila, tuloy na naman. Ganoon naman tayong mga Filipino (they'll be a little nervous, but when they see the situation improving, they just continue. That's how we Filipinos are), we always manage to stand up in times of distress, he added.

Panelo described concerns raised by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that voter turnout will decrease after the explosions as speculative.

Nag-i-speculate lang sila. Speculating lang kasi they're saying na because nagkaroon ng bomba, takot na takot na ang tao (They're just speculating. Speculating because they're saying because there were bombings, people are already afraid), Panelo said.

'Di ba sabi nila (Didn't they say), they're going their normal activity. They are just alert now and vigilant and cautious but they will vote, he added.

The second plebiscite on the ratification of the BOL will take place in the in six Lanao del Norte towns and in 67 villages in North Cotabato.

Earlier, Comelec announced that voter participation in the plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL on Jan. 21 was higher than the expected 85 percent.

The Jan. 21 plebiscite was conducted in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) provinces Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, and cities of Isabela and Cotabato.

Safe haven

Meanwhile, Panelo said the country remained a safe place to visit but rejected suspicions that martial law in Mindanao will be expanded in other areas.

We would like to assure the general public that they can go about their normal activity in life; our country is still a safe haven, Panelo said.

There is no necessity for any expansion of martial law, as the President has repeatedly declared, he added.

He said the bombings in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City were isolated incidents, noting that without martial law, things could have been worse.

If there was no martial law there, I'm certain it will not only be one or two. As what happened during the Marawi incident, there was no martial law, and look what they did to Marawi they destroyed an entire city. But after martial law was declared, these are isolated incidents, Panelo said.

Foreign assistance

Panelo said that the Palace was not asking but remains open to foreign assistance to help combat terrorism in the country.

There's no need for any asking for help because they are already offering them, those support, Panelo said.

Wala tayong hinihingi. Sila nga ang nag-o-offer. So we will wait kung ano iyong io-offer nila sa atin, tatanggapin natin (We are not asking for anything. They are the ones who are offering. So we will wait for what they have to offer us, we will accept), he added.

Panelo mentioned the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, China and Russia as among the countries that have expressed interest to extend support and assistance.

He said the Philippines will welcome assistance, including weapons or intelligence, in the same way other countries also accept them.

Weapons for instance, intelligence. Oh di kung iyon ang ibibigay sa atin (if that's what they will give us), we will welcome it. Anything that can stop terrorism in this country, we will welcome; in the same way that other countries will welcome such offer of assistance, Panelo said.

Authorities have yet to determine whether or not the bombings at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu that killed 22 people and wounded a hundred others on Jan. 27 and the explosion inside a mosque in Logoy Diutay, Barangay Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City on Jan. 30 were related. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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