MANILA - More than 20,000 police officers and soldiers will be deployed to secure the upcoming plebiscite for a new Bangsamoro territory in Mindanao, officials said Friday.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Benjamin Madrigal Jr. assured the public that security measures for the Jan. 21 plebiscite were already in place.
"Maraming troops tayo, more than 20,000 na ide-deploy for this exercise alone,” Albayalde told reporters.
(We have many troops, more than 20,000 will be deployed for this exercise alone.)
Madrigal added that authorities were continuously monitoring places in Mindanao where there are known armed groups. Mindanao remains under martial rule.
So far, there are no security threats to the upcoming plebiscite, Madrigal said.
"We are closely monitoring 'yung possible na mga spoilers but so far wala pa naman tayong namomonitor,” Madrigal said.
(We are closely monitoring possible spoilers but so far there is none.)
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier said it has prepared 2.1 million ballots for voters of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan, where the plebiscite will be held on Monday.
The rest of the core territories, including contiguous areas that asked to be included in the new Bangsamoro area, will get to vote on Feb. 6.
The upcoming plebiscite will determine the fate of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which seeks to create an autonomous Bangsamoro entity, seen to help end strife in long restive Mindanao.
President Rodrigo Duterte is banking on the law's ratification to heal "historical injustices" suffered by the Moros.
- with a report from Dexter Ganibe, ABS-CBN News