Divina M. Suson
TUBOD, LANAO DEL NORTE -----
Now that the 'no' votes won in the recently-held plebisicite in Lanao del Norte, Governor Imelda Dimapo is open for a recnciliation talk with Peace Secretary Carlito Galvez, who was frequently seen in the province campaigning for the inclusion of the six contested municipalities to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Around 3:00 pm on Thursday (February 7), the Plebiscite Provincial Board of Canvassers finished canvassing the statement of votes by municipality at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Session Hall at the Provincial Capitol, here.
In an interview after the Plebiscite Provincial Board of Canvassers chairman announced the result, Dimaporo said she was hurt of what the secretary was doing during the campaign period because instead of explaining to the public the reasons of the inclusion of the six municipalities to the BARMM, she and her husband 2nd District Congressman Abdullah and 1st District Congressman Khalid, were being attacked.
Their political opponents were also used in the campaign according to her.
"He was using in the (Bangsamoro plebiscite) campaign our political opponents of the barangay chairmen. He was not really fair because he was even accusing us that we were the ones doing the harassment when it's the other way around," Dimaporo said in an interview with DXIC RMN Iligan, February 8.
During the campaign of the Bangsamoro plebiscite, Mayor Rafael Rizalda of Maigo town and Atty. Osop Omar were some of the prominent politicians seen campaigning with the Office of the Presidential Affairs on the Peace Process.
Rizalda and Omar are running as provincial governor and vice governor, respectively, in the coming May elections, against Dimaporo and her team mate.
Some prominent politicians, known to be the Dimaporos' opponents who campaigned 'yes' to the inclusion with the OPAPP, were mayors Casan Maquiling of Munai and Lacson Lantud of Pantao Ragat.
"I understand his (Galvez) job, I respect him but I have hoped he also respected the orientation of the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law)," Dimaporo added.
'We did not neglect them'
Dimaporo said the provincial government did not neglect the hinterland towns of the province, especially the six contested tows - Pantar, Baloi, Tagoloan, Munai, Tangkal and Nunungan.
If there are basic services that were not given to them, it should be the municipal mayors of this towns answerable.
"We never neglect them, they know that. I think the reason why they wanted to be included in the Bangsamoro government. That's what they are up to and I don't know if they get what percent of that if they will be included in BARMM," Dimaporo said.
"We give them the assistance they needed. Just look at Munai, look at Tangkal," Dimaporo said.
Munai is the place where Camp Bilal of Abdullah Macapaar, also known as Commander Bravo, the leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) in North Western Mindanao Front, who claimed to have atleast 10,000 armed men.
Help for Bravo's group
After the overwhelming votes for 'no' to the inclusion of the six municipalities to the Bangsamoro government, the provincial government will extend help on Macapaar's abaca farming in Barangay Tamparan in Munai.
Despite of the last video of Macapaar surfaced on social media, threatening the province, mentioning coastal municipalities, saying that 'his men were already deployed in the area', that concerning them very much.
"Ang panawagan ko lang na sana naman si Commander Bravo ay i-respeto kung ano man ang resulta ng mga tao," Dimaporo said.
"We have plans of helping him, we are still keeping it to ourselves, sana ay tatanggapin niya ang tulong na ibibigay namin to help him. He has abaca plantatiom," she added.
The provincial government can extend this help with the help of Sec. Galvez.
Ready for a reconciliation
Meanwhile, Rizalda said he will accept the result of the plebiscite even if 'yes' votes lost in his own town.
He is also open to a reconciliation.
"As I have observed, the plebiscite was peacefully and successfully done and the victory of 'no' votes is overwhelming. Everybody went out and participated, and that must be respected," Rizalda said in an interview.
After the plebiscite, Rizalda hopes that the genuine and lasting peace will prevail in Lanao del Norte.
"I hope that the group of 'yes' and 'no' supporters will be united and move on, help one another," he added.
Since the announcement of result, Rizalda said, he have not received yet a call or a reaction from Macapaar's group.
But he prayed that there will be no violent reactions from the group of Macapaar now that they did not succeed with their dreams to be included in the Bangsamoro regional government.
Low voters turnout
With the overwhelming 789,157 votes for 'no' over 490,748 for 'yes' votes, the contested six municipalities -Pantar, Baloi, Tagoloan, Munai, Tangkal and Nunungan, will not be included in the Bangsamoro regional government under the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
With the 69% voters turn out, or 242,667 voters who actually voted, Provincial Election Supervisor Atty. Joseph Hamilton Cuevas, the chairman of the PPBOC, said it is low to what the Commission on Elections is expecting.
Cuevas however said it is the normal turnout in the province during regular elections.
"Mas mataas ang voters turnout na inexpect natin ngayon kasi plebisito," Cuevas added, declaring that the plebiscite in Lanao del Norte is the most peaceful, orderly and successful plebiscite 'in the country'.
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