Security stepped up for filing of COCs by Maguindanao bets
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – To prevent election-related violence such as the 2009 Maguindanao massacre from happening again, police authorities in that province have stepped up security measures for the filing of certificates of candidacies this week and the coming elections.
Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, Maguindanao police director, led a command conference last week to map out security plans to ensure an orderly, peaceful, honest and credible elections in Maguindanao.
“This is to prevent violence from happening on political candidates on their way to the Comelec office to file their candidacies,” Muksan told reporters.
“We will start during the filing of certificates of candidacy,” Muksan added.
The filing of certificates of candidacy will start on Monday (October 12) and will end on October 16.
Since the Commission on Elections’ Maguindanao office is in Cotabato City, Muksan has said his office has coordinated with the Cotabato City Police Office, headed by Senior Supt. Rex Anongos, on security arrangements.
“We will put up police assistance desk in all municipalities and in Cotabato City because some candidates will be filing in the city,” he said.
Candidates for municipal mayor, vice mayor and members of the town council are to file their COCs at the municipal election officer’s office located at the town center.
Candidates for provincial governor, vice governor and members of the provincial board plus aspirants for congressional seats will file at the Comelec provincial office in Cotabato City.
Muksan said five towns in Maguindanao have been considered “areas of immediate concern.” These are the towns of Sultan sa Barongis, Datu Unsay, Raja Buayan, Sultan Mastura and Matanog.
Muksan refused to reveal why these towns have been tagged “areas of immediate concern” for the PNP in the 2016 elections, saying evaluation and assessment of the possible intense political rivalries have been going on.
Lawyer Udtog Tago, Maguindanao election officer, has announced his office will be open from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. to accept COCs.
At least 58 persons, including 32 media persons, were killed on November 23, 2009 by henchmen of then Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., led by his son, the then Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. Father and son and another Ampatuan son, Zaldy, plus dozens of men, who were either former cops or members of paramilitary groups in Maguindanao. The victims, accompanied by media persons, were to file the candidacy of then Buluan town vice mayor and now Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu for governor.
Mangudadatu was to challenge the governorship of Maguindanao long ruled by the Ampatuan clan.
Andal Sr. died of cancer months ago. The trial of his two sons and his alleged henchmen continues at the special court formed for the case in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. SFM
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