COTABATO CITY – Police authorities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have appealed to both political leaders and the public to help make the 2022 elections in the region peaceful and orderly.
“While the Commission on Elections and its deputies are yet to publicly identify areas where intense political rivalries and violence are likely to occur ahead of the next years’ elections, BARMM has been traditionally an ‘area of concern’ for the security sector every election,” Brig. Gen. Eden T. Ugale, BARMM police director, said in a media statement Monday.
Ugale, however, said he still believes that peaceful election is still very feasible in the region.
Also on Monday, Ugale led the launching of a campaign to reduce, if not eradicate, the proliferation of loose firearms in the region.
He called for an end to violence caused by private armed groups (PAGs) in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
It was in Maguindanao that the country’s worst election-related violence occurred in 2009 where 57 people, 32 of them local journalists and media workers were killed while in a convoy to accompany the filing of the certificate of candidacy of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu who was eying the gubernatorial position in the 2010 elections.
Those killed in the incident also included Mangudadatu’s wife, his two sisters, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were mistakenly identified as part of the convoy.
“We do not want a repetition of that same incident,” Ugale said.
He said police provincial and municipal offices are to display tarpaulins in public places reminding everyone to support peaceful elections.
It will contain the following text: “Wakasan ang karahasan dulot ng Private Armed Groups. Sumuko at makisi-isa sa mapayapang halalan tunog sa maunlad na bayan.”
Both reelectionist Maguindanao Gov. Bai Mariam Sangki Mangudadatu and Rep. Esmael, who is running for governor, have separately vowed to support the Philippine National Police’s call for dismantling of PAGs in the province. (PNA)