MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday dismissed the allegations of Cotabato City Mayor Frances Cynthia Guiani Sayadi that the government and military officials conspired with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to ensure the inclusion of the city to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the plebiscite held last month.
“This is an unfortunate occasion where the AFP, despite diligently performing its mandate 24/7, is being accused of a malpractice. This is grossly unfair of the AFP who dutifully performed their election duties,” said AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo in a statement.
Sayadi was against the inclusion of Cotabato City in the BARMM. But it received a “yes” vote of 36,682 votes and 24,994 “no” in the voting held last Jan. 21.
The BARMM will allow a greater autonomy to the Muslim region in Mindanao. Overall, the rest of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
In a news report, Sayadi claimed that the registered voters were not able to vote because they were being harassed and intimidated by members of the MILF.
She said military officials also promised to disperse the MILF around the polling centers but there was no corresponding action.
Arevalo urged Sayadi to bring up the charges to the proper forum and substantiate her allegations.
“The AFP is and will remain professional, non-partisan, and true to its mandate of protecting the people in the exercise of their political rights and in electing their leaders who will manage the affairs of the state,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of 6th Infantry Division, also rejected the allegations of Sayadi.
“I hope the good mayor is happy with her storyline. We never and will ever take side in any political exercise. Our intent is to provide a democratic space and let democracy work,” he said. /je
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