20,000 soldiers, cops to secure Bangsamoro plebiscite

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy a 20,000-strong joint force to secure the historic Bangsamoro plebiscite on January 21 and February 6.

In a text message to Rappler, AFP spokesman Colonel Noel Detoyato said the military will deploy 10,400 soldiers.

“The army divisions were formed into joint task forces for faster and seamless joint operations with air and naval components,” Detoyato said.

These joint task forces include Joint Task Forces Central, Zampelan, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

The police, for its part, will deploy 9,907, according to the tally of the PNP Public Information Office.

Most of the cops – 5,448  – will secure polling centers,  2,971 will be on standby as quick reaction teams. 993 will form the reactionary and standby support force, while 495 will make up the red team and headquarters skeletal force.

The plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is expected to have a voter turnout of 2.8 million people.

The Commission on Elections estimates that 150,000 of the voters would be former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The BOL aims to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and replace it with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which has greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, parliament, and justice system. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.