Cops cite stakeholders’ unity in peaceful Maguindanao polls

By Noel Punzalan and Edwin Fernandez

May 15, 2018, 3:47 pm

COTABATO CITY -- With cooperation and unity among local stakeholders, police said the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Maguindanao turned out "generally peaceful" despite minor incidents of violence, commotion, and misunderstanding.

Senior Supt. Edwin Wagan, Maguindanao police provincial director, told reporters Tuesday that about 130 cops served as members of electoral board.

"Peacefully, we hurdled the balloting with minor and manageable problems like disenfranchisement, misunderstanding," Wagan said as he thanked the stakeholders for their cooperation with the different government agencies involved in the elections.

“We could have not done enough in securing the polls without the help of the constituents of Maguindanao,” he said.

Across the province, the balloting was peaceful with 18 policemen performing as election board members in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town after teachers refused to serve due to their blood relations with some of the candidates.

An hour before the polling started in the town, a staccato of gunfires were heard in the area.

The commotion originated from a quarrel between supporters of two candidates for barangay captains at a voting precinct at the poblacion area, police said.

Wagan said one was reported injured during the incident, adding that “the victim is a relative of a reelectionist candidate for village council member that was hit by a bullet from an unknown source during a commotion with another party of supporters."

Five explosions in different areas of the province were also reported during the election day, one of which was a grenade blast just outside the municipal hall of neighboring Datu Unsay town barely an hour before elections were to take place.

Still in Maguindanao, a blast also occurred in Barangay Dungguan, Datu Montawal, around 11:30 a.m. but no one was hurt. It also failed to scare away voters in the area, police said.

In the border of Tulunan, North Cotabato and Sultan sa Barongis, Maguindanao, twin explosions were heard before noontime but the electorates continued with their voting after being assured of safety by government troops. In Datu Paglat town, an explosion also took place in the early morning of Monday but hurt no one.

In the entire Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), police recorded an "unprecedented generally peaceful" election, said Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, Police Regional Office-ARMM director.

Mijares lauded all the stakeholders, candidates and voters for the peaceful elections in the region. (Noel Punzalan & Edwin Fernandez/PNA)