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High voter turnout observed for BOL plebiscite, Comelec spokesperson says

Amid reported tensions at the start of the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman Director James Jimenez on Monday said there is a high voter turnout in the area.

"So far mataas ang turnout ng voters. In fact ilang lugar dito sa Cotabato 'yan nga ang nagiging problema, ang dami-daming botante... But the security forces are managing. Nakakatulong din naman ang mga citizens arm natin. But definitely mataas ang interest, mataas ang turnout," Jimenez said in an interview on News To Go.

Jimenez assured the public that the plebiscite would push through despite reported delays especially in some precincts in Cotabato City.

"For the most part for buong Basulta [Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi] halimbawa, 97 percent ng Lanao del Sur medyo maganda po 'yung takbo ng halalan doon. Dito lang talaga sa Cotabato City nagkaroon ng issue...," Jimenez said.

"Tuloy naman po [ang plebiscite]. May mga areas na binabantayan natin kasi medyo napakaraming botante sa isang lugar... pero yes tuloy po ang halalan," he added.

Initial reports said some 26 ballot boxes were still unclaimed at the Cotabato City's Treasury Office past 7 a.m. A total of 78 teachers did not show up to get them.

The Comelec official said those teachers have been replaced.

"Meron po tayong mga replacement teachers, pero ang problema nagka-delay tayo ng opening dahil prinoseso pa natin 'yung mga kapalit nila, mga alternates nila... Medyo may paper work..." Jimenez said.

There were also reported tensions at Cotabato City Institute wherein some flying voters allegedly flocked to the area.

Policemen were in the area to defuse the tension.

A grenade was also lobbed at the entrance to the Cotabato City National High School-Rojas Site in Bagua, Cotabato City on Monday morning, but voters continued to cast their votes.

On Sunday, two motorcycle-riding men hurled grenades at the house of a Cotabato City judge, just hours before polling precincts were to open. No one was hurt. —Anna Felicia Bajo/KG, GMA News