Police probe burning of LP headquarters in Maguindanao town



COTABATO CITY—Unidentified men on Wednesday set afire the provincial headquarters of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, but no casualty was reported, police said on Thursday.

Senior Inspector Robert Papa, Sultan Kudarat town chief, said armed men razed the building owned by Ressie Torres in Barangay Bulalo, which borders this city and the town, at past 7 p.m.

The town is considered the stronghold of the Masturas, having been alternately governed by family members for decades now.

Town Mayor Tocao Mastura, who is also provincial party chair of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is challenging Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, the LP candidate.

Papa said police are still investigating but an enraged Mastura said it was apparent that there were efforts to link him to the incident this early.

“We could not possibly secure all of Sultan Kudarat even if they say it is our territory,” he said in a radio interview.

He said the incident was apparently aimed at embarrassing him. “It is the cheapest attempt at destroying me so far,” he said.

Mastura challenged his rivals instead to be fair.

Mastura said aside from the attempt to embarrass him, his rivals are also harassing candidates of the UNA.

He cited an April 11 incident in the town of Kabuntalan Mother, where one of the campaigners of UNA mayoral candidate Abraham Samad was pistol-whipped by several men.

Mangudadatu, he said, is also using the Maguindanao massacre case to have his opponents arrested by linking them to the mass murder. Jeoffrey Maitem and Dennis Santos, Inquirer Mindanao

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