By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
May 3, 2019
MARAWI CITY: Local candidates in Lanao del Sur’s coastal municipalities of Kapatagan, Balabagan, Malabang, Picong and Marogong have vowed to hold a peaceful and orderly election on May 13 and signed on Thursday a peace covenant facilitated by the 6th Infantry (Redskin) Battalion held at its headquarters in Barangay Matalin, Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
Present during the activity were Colonel Wilbur Mamawag, commander of the 603rd Infantry (Persuader) Brigade; Police Colonel Madsagani Mukaram, Director of Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office; Ali B. Mangotara, Ministry of Local Government Assistant Provincial Director; Election Officers; Chiefs of Police; religious sector leaders; traditional leaders; MILF and MNLF commanders; Mayoral and Vice Mayoral candidates of the province’s coastal towns, and other stakeholders.
Lawyer Allan Kadon, Lanao del Sur Elections Supervisor, encouraged all aspirants to maintain an honest election and not to engage in any undesirable or violent action.
“This 2019 Midterm Elections will not be peaceful without the help of all the people in the community especially all the aspirants for this coming election. Let us always remember that peace cannot be attained by force or imposing violence, it always requires understanding and respect for all our differences and beliefs,” Kadon added.
Col. Mamawag assured that the army deployed in the coastal municipalities will be an able partner to have a credible, honest, orderly and peaceful election.
“We will also ensure that there will be no failure of elections and all voters can exercise freely their right to suffrage,” he added.
Meanwhile, in the province of Lanao del Norte, the provincial government has intensified security measures since Tuesday to ensure that voters cast their ballots without fear of violence following the armed confrontation that occurred in April in Salvador municipality.
Provincial information officer Lyndon Calica said that the shooting incident involving supporters of opposing political candidates in the Lanao del Norte town of Salvador on April 3 “must not be downplayed.”
“Law enforcers must see to it that it won’t be repeated,” Calica said of the shootout that injured four persons when supporters of mayoral candidates Farhani Tawantawan and Bangcola Umpa traded bullets.
The Tawantawan and Umpa families are known to be political rivals in Salvador.
But Calica said that except for Salvador and a few municipalities, the whole of Lanao del Norte cannot be considered as an election hotspot area.
“Lanao del Norte is a peaceful province, but we must be vigilant,” he said.
He said Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo has directed local officials and police units to tighten the security in their respective areas.
Col. Surki Sereñas, Police Regional Office 10 (PRO-10) spokesperson, said they are closely monitoring the situation in Lanao del Norte as the mid-term elections near.
Sereñas said some areas in the province have been noted as having intense political rivalry, not just El Salvador.
In 2013, at least 13 people were killed and several others wounded when the convoy of Abdul Malik Manamparan, who was the mayor of Nunungan town, was attacked by an armed group on their way home from a campaign sortie.
Sereñas said they are ready to deploy more personnel from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion in Lanao del Norte if necessary.
“We are very much grateful for the support of the local aspirants and the people of Western and Central Mindanao to the preparations we are undertaking for the upcoming election,” said WestMinCom chief Lieutenant General Arnel Dela Vega.
“Rest assured that team WestMinCom will remain steadfast in serving and protecting the people and in ensuring a peaceful and orderly 2019 Midterm Elections,” LtGen Dela Vega added. (MNY/RSP)