PARANG, Maguindanao – A total of 14 election-related incidents have been recorded in the five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) from October 1 to April 30, with 15 persons killed and 11 wounded, according to records of the Police Regional Office-ARMM.
Chief Supt. Noel delos Reyes, chief of the Police Regional Office-ARMM, told MindaNews late Tuesday afternoon that they included election-related incidents committed even before the official start of the election period on January 13.
The PRO-ARMM record shows four incidents between October 13 and January 12 where a candidate for councilor in Bayang, Laano del Sur was killed; a mayoralty candidate in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindano was wounded; a barangay chair in Jolo, Sulu was wounded and two civilians were killed in a firefight between the group of a barangay captain and a rival in Mohammad Ajul in Basilan.
Of the 15 persons slain between October 13 and April 30, four were barangay chairs and three were barangay kagawads (councilors). Of the 11 wounded, three are barangay chairs. Another barangay chair, Muktar Harris, was shot at in Tabuan Lasa, Basilan on January 28 but was not harmed.
ARMM has 2,490 barangays spread across 116 towns and two cities. De los Reyes said it has 75 election watchlist areas.
The region comprises the mainland provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi, and the cities of Marawi in Lanao del Sur and Lamitan in Basilan.
Three of its five provinces were among the initial nationwide list of 15 “areas of concern” or “high-risk areas” released in November: Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao. Sulu was added to the list on April 29.
Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas had earlier said the listing of provinces in the priority watch list is based on several factors and objective criteria including the presence of private armed groups, loose firearms, intense political rivalries, past history of election violence, and the presence of other threat groups like terrorists and communist rebels, among others.
Nationwide, the 16 “areas of concern” are Abra, Ilocos, Pangasinan, La Union, Cagayan, Nueve Ecija, Pampanga, Cavite, Batangas, Masbate, Western Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Sulu.
Among the ARMM provinces, only Tawi-tawi is not on the list. Tawi-tawi also has zero election-related incidents, PRO-ARMM records show.
The same records show Sulu has six killed and eight wounded; Maguindanao has six killed and one wounded; Basilan has two killed and one wounded. Lanao del Sur has one killed and one wounded.
Out of the 14 election-related incidents, 11 were due to shooting incidents, two were due to a firefight and one was due to an explosion.
Thirteen of the 14 incidents were done at daytime – between 6:15 a.m. and 5:45 p.m – nine of them in the morning.
Only one was perpetrated at night, a shooting at 7:10 p.m. on January 28 in Tabuan Lasa, Basilan but the barangay chair was unharmed.
Three of the four slain barangay chairs were from Maguindanao.
The PRO-ARMM identified the slain barangay chairs as Musanip Buisan, president of the Association of Barangay Captains in Sultan Sumagka, Maguindanao; Tunko Zangkala of Barangy Macalag, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao; Salindatu Rajamuda of Baranga Macasampen, Guindulungan, Maguindanao; and Ruben Maning of Barangay Kahawa, Talipao, Sulu.
Buisan, his companions Thoks Buisan and Sunny Saligan were shot dead by unidentified armed men on board a motorcycle at around 2:45 p.m. on January 19. Zangkala was shot at around 10:45 a.m. on March 6. Maning was driving his jeepney towards Jolo, Sulu when armed men blocked the road and shot him. Rajamuda was killed in a bomb explosion while on board his vehicle at 6:15 a.m. on April 25.
The injured barangay chairs were identified as Parson Jaamil of Barangay Walled City in Jolo, Sulu; Alawi Jaujali of Barangay Pintasan in Muhammad Ajul, Basilan; and Abbas Palawan of Barangay Tampilong, Marawi City.
Jaamil was shot at Plaza Marina in his barangay at 4:30 p.m. on January 7; Jaujali and his group were inspecting a road project in Sitio Deggu at 8 a.m. on March 27 when shot; while Palawan was shot at around 9:40 a.m. on April 20.
The slain barangay councilors were Basit Aspalin of Barangay Pintasan, Mohammad Ajul, Basilan, who was gunned down in Sitio Deggu at 8 a.m. on March 27; Makin Alih who was with barangay chair Jaujali when killed on March 27; and Marcos Ting Simpla Guilaya aka “Badboy” who was shot by still unidentified men on board a motorcycle at around 9:30 a.m on April 7 in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
(ARMM WATCH is a project of VERA Files in partnership withMindaNews and I-Watch. It is supported by The Asia Foundation and Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)