ON GUARD. Police and soldiers were deployed around Barangay Dalican, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, to serve as peacekeepers following the murder of former village chair and MILF defeated mayoral candidate Datu Jamael Sinsuat Sr. on Sept. 30, 2022 as he emerged from Friday prayers in a mosque. On the same day, armed men were also injured in an attack on a nephew of the slain Datu Jam. (Photo courtesy of Maguindanao PPO)

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao – More security forces have been deployed here to reduce tension following the Sept. 30 killing of a former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) mayoral bet.

“The fielding of more government forces in the town aims to prevent the possible escalation of hostilities brought about by the brutal slaying of ex-mayoralty bet Datu Jamael ‘Datu Jam’ Sinsuat last week,” Col. Roel Sermese, Maguindanao police chief, said Monday.

Soldiers, backed by armored personnel carriers, were deployed in strategic sections of the town while the police did round-the-clock foot patrols.

Sermese said the investigation about the murder of Datu Jam, a former village chair of Barangay Dalican, is still ongoing.

Datu Jam was shot dead Friday noon while exiting from the mosque at the back of the municipal town hall building by a gunman who was killed by the victim's escorts following a brief chase.

Stray bullets during the shootout also killed a civilian.

After the murder of Datu Jam, a group of armed men traded bullets in Barangay Poblacion on the same day that injured the son of Maguindanao Board Member Datu Bimbo Sinsuat, elder brother of Datu Jam.

On Sunday, Sermese relieved Lt. Col. Erwin Tabora as town police chief and replaced him with Maj. Janz Vladimir Hilarion.

Over the weekend, Barangay Poblacion turned into a virtual “ghost town” when stalls and stores at the public market were closed.

“Rest assured that other individuals behind these incidents will be pursued until each one of them will be found to face proper charges,” Sermese said.

He assured the safety of local residents with the deployment of more security forces.

“Bear with us as we prioritize your safety and welfare, we also appeal for your cooperation and support,” he told residents.

The municipal disaster office also issued a statement assuring the public that “normalcy” had been restored. (PNA)