Military and police officials met with the Commission on Elections Thursday to ensure the peaceful holding of a plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law this month and the mid-term elections in May.
In a joint statement, the Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Committee said they had lengthy discussions on the different electoral processes, the government’s continuing efforts against loose and undocumented firearms and the nationwide gun ban imposed by the Comelec from Jan. 13 to June 12.
The group also discussed the ongoing campaign against private armed groups and efforts to preempt the outbreak of violence in areas where the political rivalry is intense.
The plebiscite to ratify the BOL, which replaces the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, is set for Jan. 21 and Feb. 6.
On Thursday, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal vowed to punish all members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit or CAFGU who moonlight for politicians.
Madrigal’s statement came after two rebel returnees who became members of the CAFGU carried out the assassination of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe.
“We make sure that if there are reports regarding some CAFGUs that are being utilized, we will act and make sure that they will be properly punished,” Madrigal said.
READ: Comelec to hold two separate plebiscites for BOL
Henry Yuson, the gunman in the killing of Batocabe, and Rolando Arimado, both former CAFGUs were among the six suspects tagged in the assassination.
CAFGUs are deployed all over the country and led by commanders under the direct supervision of the military.
“We will ensure that they will be non-partisan and apolitical in this exercise,” said Madrigal said, referring to the upcoming midterm elections in May.
“They are under the military justice system and aside from that they can be charged criminally depending on the gravity of violations they have committed,” Madrigal added.
Madrigal said they are not just focused on midterm elections but also the BOL plebiscite in Mindanao with 10,400 troops scattered in Mindanao to ensure a peaceful plebiscite.
“Security measures are already in place, especially in the case of Mindanao and we have added security measures and intelligence monitoring of threat groups,” Madrigal said.
Also on Thursday, Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes said former senator Lito Lapid got a boost in his company’s most recent opinion poll because he is in the top-rate TV show, “Ang Probinsyano.”
READ: Poe most preferred in poll
Speaking to the ANC news channel, he also said Liberal Party stalwarts Manuel Roxas II and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV were pulled down by criticism leveled against their party by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The so-called anti-dilawan, it’s a factor,” he said.
On the other hand, Holmes said having a high ranking in the surveys was no guarantee of victory in the May elections.
“We’ve seen changes in the past, in the previous elections, where people in the first to seventh rank eventually go down in terms of electoral preference later because of strategies that are adopted by other candidates,” he said on ANC’s Headstart.
READ: Mindanao leaders oppose inclusion in Bangsamoro
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