TWO candidates for village council and a supporter in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) were killed while installing campaign posters in Barangay Rosary Heights 12 in Cotabato City on Monday night.
LtCol. Carmelo Mungkas, city police spokesman, identified the fatalities as Nur-Moqtadin Butucan, a candidate for village council in Barangay Rosary Heights (RH) 12; Alfar Singh Ayunan Pasawilan, a candidate for village councilman in Barangay Kalanganan 2; and supporter Faizal Abas, also of Barangay Kalanganan 2.
Operation Baklas Commission on Elections Chairman George Erwin Garcia helps remove campaign materials attached to electric posts on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, in Pasay City, as the commission ramped up its drive against illegal campaign materials. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN
Injured were Saipul Sapalon and Fajeed Daud, both of Barangay Kalanganan 2.
“Our initial investigation showed that the victims were putting tarpaulin and other propaganda materials in Barangay RH 12 when fired upon by gunmen at about 9 p.m.,” Mungkas said.
At least 12 persons have been invited for questioning at the city’s Police Station 1 over the incident.
The police, backed by Philippine Marines, recovered an M16 rifle, a.45-caliber pistol and a 9 mm handgun in the area.
“The situation is under control. Hopefully, no similar incident will take place in the coming days,” Mungkas said.
Cotabato City Mayor Bruce Matabalao condemned the incident and suspended classes in at least four public schools near the crime scene.
“I also appeal for sobriety among the city residents,” Matabalao said.
Monday night’s shootout in this city is the 12th election-related incident recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Meanwhile, at least 500 more police personnel were deployed in strategic areas of North Cotabato province for the maintenance of peace and order ahead of the October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.
Col. Harry Ramos, the North Cotabato Provincial Police Office (NCPPO) police director, officially turned over the augmentation force to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during a simple ceremony on Monday afternoon.
Myla Luna, the provincial election supervisor, said the augmentation “will be supported by the commission to perform their responsibilities.” `
Capt. April Rose Soria, NCPPO spokesman, said the augmentation personnel came from the police’s Highway Patrol Group, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Regional Mobile Force Battalion, and Provincial Mobile Force Co., which will be deployed in the province’s 17 municipalities and one city.
“The augmentation personnel will be assigned in polling precincts near police stations and villages considered non-conflict zones, deeming their limited familiarity with terrains,” she said, adding that the group will work with the 1,200-strong NCPPO police force.