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DoH, Comelec regional offices gear up for Bangsamoro vote

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WITH AN expected 2.8 million voters for the coming Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite, the Department of Health (DoH) and Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have laid out plans to ensure immediate response to critical situations. All health offices and hospitals in the ARMM have been ordered to be on code white alert status, according to DoH-ARMM Secretary Khadil M. Sinolinding, Jr. “This is an SOP (standard operating procedure) for us, especially in highly-sensitive activities that need the participation of the people. This status puts all our personnel in standby in case the need arises,” Mr. Sinolinding said in an interview with BusinessWorld. “We advise our voters to keep themselves well hydrated during lone lines, bring umbrella and fans to beat the heat, and go to our nearest health stations for health problems during the day,” he added. He also appealed to voters to be alert, saying, “Be very vigilant about any suspicious people and movements — notify our law enforcers.” Comelec-ARMM Chair Rey F. Sumalipao said of the total number of registered voters, about 1.9 million are expected on Jan. 21 covering ARMM and the cities of Isabela and Cotabato. The rest are voters from parts of Lanao del Norte and Cotabato provinces, who will cast their ballots on Feb. 6. Mr. Sumalipao said they are anticipating peace and order challenges during the referendum, and have response systems in place. “Everything is already in place, including the coordination with PNP (police) and AFP (military),” he said, “We are preparing for any eventualities, in case there is, we are ready to respond.” — Tajallih S. Basman