Duty over fear: Teachers, watchdogs gear for BOL vote despite safety worries

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2019 03:22 PM

COTABATO CITY - Teachers and fraud watchdogs on Sunday ticked off final preparations for a plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which the interior department said could be a target of rebel and extremist attacks. 

President Rodrigo Duterte is banking on the measure to correct "historical injustices" against the Moros. If the BOL is ratified in Monday's plebiscite, it will create a region with wider self-rule for the Moros in the south. 

But while the law is "our ticket to a peaceful Mindanao," the plebiscite "also poses as an opportunity for communist terrorists, extremists, and anti-BOL factions to sow violence and prevent the voting from happening," Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement. 

Despite this threat, teachers here in Cotabato inspected the ballot boxes, forms, voters' list and other election materials to ensure that these were not tampered with. 

Poll watchers meanwhile held a final orientation on guarding votes. 

“Hindi namin maano na talagang 100 percent yung kampante namin, pero syempre bilang part ng profession namin kailangan namin ito gawin,” teacher Bainot Nasser told ABS-CBN News. 

(We are not 100 percent confident, but of course, as part of our profession, we have to do this.) 

“Natatakot din naman po pero wala kami magagawa, ito ang aming duty," added colleague Sittie Sarah Kalipapa. 

(We are also scared but we can't do anything else, this is our duty.) 

ALL SET FOR PLEBISCITE 

Some 20,000 policemen and soldiers were deployed to Cotabato, Isabela City in Basilan, and other areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where 2.8 million voters will decide on the BOL's fate. 

"All hands are now on deck to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of the plebiscite," Año said. 

All election materials have also been delivered while teachers serving in the plebiscite were accounted for, said Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez. 

“Ready na tayo. Ang hinihintay na lang natin ay ang pagbubukas ng mga presinto,” Jimenez said.

(We are already ready. We are just waiting for the opening of the precincts.) 

PLEA FOR PEACE 

Teachers in Cotabato City inspect election materials on the eve of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ABS-CBN News

Teachers in Cotabato City inspect election materials on the eve of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ABS-CBN News

Teachers in Cotabato City inspect election materials on the eve of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ABS-CBN News

Teachers in Cotabato City inspect election materials on the eve of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ABS-CBN News

Teachers in Cotabato City inspect election materials on the eve of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ABS-CBN News

Teachers in Cotabato City inspect election materials on the eve of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law. ABS-CBN News

Teachers urged voters to maintain order during the plebiscite and reject participation in any violence. 

“Sana maging mahinahon sila sa pagboto, kung ano nasa puso nila yun iboto nila, huwag sila magpadala sa sabi-sabi sa labas. Huwag sila gumawa ng karahasan para lang magawa ang gusto nila,” Kalipapa said.

(I hope they would vote calmly, vote for what is in their heart and not be swayed by what others are saying. Don't commit any violence just to get your wish.) 

“Kahit ano po maging resulta ng BOL plebisito, sana po magkaroon pa rin tayo ng mapayapa at maunlad na pamumuno," added poll watcher Samir Sandalan.

(No matter what the result of the BOL plebiscite would be, may we have a peaceful and progressive leadership.)