MANILA, Philippines -- The 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army is now on alert to ensure security in Maguindanao, which was the site of the massacre of 58 civilians during the thick of local elections in 2009.
Soldiers are now manning several checkpoints in the province as politicians are expected to flock to the local Commission on Elections office to file their certificates of candidacy (COCs).
The allies of Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Datu” Mangudadatu assured there won’t be a repeat of the Maguindanao massacre, which happened almost three years ago but has yet to be resolved.
The 57 civilians, including 32 journalists and the wife of Mangudadatu, were slaughtered and buried in an isolated area off the main highway in Ampatuan town. They were on their way to Comelec for the filing of Mangudadatu’s COC.
Mangudadatu, who was then Buluan vice mayor, was set to challenge Andal Ampatuan Jr. in the gubernatorial elections. Ampatuan is the main respondent in the case, now being heard before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Today, Mangudadatu is set for another re-election as Maguindanao governor. He will file his COC on Thursday.
His rival for the post, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Datu Tucao Mastura, will file his candidacy on Monday.
“Hindi na mangyayari ang Manguindanao massacre na kinatatakutan natin. Itong si Governor Mangudadatu at Mayor Tucao Mastura ay wala namang hidwaan,” said Northern Kabuntalan Mayor Datu Ramil Dilangalen. The latter is also Mangudadatu’s spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the Comelec office there asked candidates not to bring guns or any form of weapon during the filing of COCs.
Comelec also reminded them that the candidates are the only ones allowed inside the office. Security escorts can only stay outside. – from a report by Jasper Acosta, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao