Security tightened in Maguindanao after ambush of local candidates

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Authorities have tightened security in politically troubled towns following the ambush on Wednesday of three candidates for local elective positions in Parang, Maguindanao.

The political allies Khadafy Pendi, Amelia Abo and Hammy Manabilang were in a car en route to Cotabato City when gunmen opened fire while their driver was maneuvering through a busy stretch of a highway in Marhaban area in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The incident prompted Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division to tighten security in areas where candidates are locked in deep-seated rivalries.

Sobejana on Thursday said Army intelligence units shall help the PRO-ARMM monitor the activities of feudal politicians as part of their security measures.

Pendi, a candidate for municipal councilor in Parang, was wounded in the attack and is now confined in a hospital.

Manabilang is also aspiring for a seat in the Sangguniang Bayan of the same town.

They are both under the ticket of Abo, a candidate for vice mayor of Parang, and her running mate, Mimbalawag Mangutara Jr.

Abo, an incumbent councilor, ranks first in the Parang municipal council having garnered most number of votes from among all aspirants for a seat in the law-making body during the 2016 local elections.

The mayoral candidate Mangutara, a lawyer and a certified public accountant, was former finance director of the executive department of ARMM.

Mangutara is pitted against Cahar Ibay, a member of ARMM’s 24-seat Regional Assembly, touted as “little congress” of the autonomous region.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, chairperson of the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, said Thursday he is ready to shell out an earnest monetary incentive for any information leading to the identities of the suspects in Wednesday’s ambush.

Mangudadatu, now in his third and last term as Maguindanao governor, said he will ask the Commission on Elections, the 6th ID and the PRO-ARMM to broker peace covenants among rival political quarters in the province.

He said the peace covenants must enjoin signatories to abide by the Omnibus Election Code that compels aspirants for elective positions to reject violence as means of perpetuating political power.

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