COTABATO CITY (John Unson, Oct. 21, 2023) — Residents of southern towns locked in intense rivalry of aspirants for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan posts were glad with Friday’s arrival here of soldiers from Luzon and Visayas for election security duties.
The 500 soldiers from different Army divisions in Luzon and Visayas were flown to the Cotabato City Airport in nearby Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte by an Air Force plane from the Villamor Air Base near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.
They were greeted warmly by onlookers and representatives from the Army’s 6th Infantry Division from Camp Siongco, only about 200 meters away, as they alighted from the aircraft that brought them in.
Mayor Rolly Sacdalan of Midsayap in Cotabato province said Saturday he and his constituent-municipal leaders are thankful to the commander of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, for keeping his promise to work out the deployment of more soldiers in central Mindanao where there are feudal clans that pitted candidates for barangay and SK positions.
A Moro candidate for barangay chairman in an area under the Bangsamoro region but is in Midsayap, which us under Administrative Region 12, was killed last September in a gun attack just few meters away from the municipal office of the Commission on Elections near the local government center building where Sacdalan report for work during weekdays.
Sacdalan said members of the multi-sector municipal peace and order council under him and his Moro and non-Moro constituents are supporting the election security efforts of the police and Army units in Midsayap.
A number of barangays in central Mindanao’s adjoining provinces of Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur and Lanao del Sur in the Bangsamoro region, Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat under Region 12, are locked in deep-seated hostilities among Moro clans that pitted candidates for barangay and SK positions.
Army Major Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of 6th ID, and Bangsamoro regional police director Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza separately told reporters via Viber Saturday that they are together complementing the election security thrusts of Comelec in known election hotspots.
“Areas beset with security issues shall be guarded round-the-clock under Comelec’s guidance,” Rillera said.
A Muslim missionary, Ameruddin Ansao Oro, who hails from Parang, Maguindanao del Norte, but is preaching in Kapatagan, Balabagan and Malabang towns in Lanao del Sur, said he was elated having heard Saturday’s radio reports about the arrival on Friday of the 500 soldiers to help secure polling sites during the October 30 barangay and SK elections in some areas in the Bangsamoro region.
“That is good for the security efforts of local government units in the Bangsamoro region and the Comelec,” Ansao said in Filipino, in an Iranun accent.
MILG’s role cited
Nobleza said the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is also actively helping push PRO-BAR’s election security activities forward.
Nobleza he is thankful to Bangsamoro Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo and his subordinate-MILG provincial directors in all of the six provinces in the autonomous region for complementing PRO-BAR’s activities meant to ensure the safety of the barangay and SK elections in some troubled areas.
Candidates for barangay and SK positions in different Bangsamoro provinces signed this week peace covenants together brokered by the police, various military units and provincial officials of MILG-BARMM, according to Nobleza. (JF UNSON)