GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 Oct) – Police and military units in Region 12 have stepped their security operations in connection with the scheduled filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) of local candidates in the May 2016 elections.
Lawyer Michael Abas, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Region 12 director, said Thursday such move was set during the regional command conference called by their office on Tuesday for the filing of the COCs on Oct. 12 to 16.
He said the command conference was joined by local election officers as well as representatives of security and law enforcement units, and other concerned government agencies in the region.
“We mainly talked about the impending filing of the COCs and other matters pertaining to the security preparations and everything is set so far,” Abas said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.
The official said Comelec offices in the region have already completed their orientations to representatives of political parties and prospective candidates regarding the policies and regulations in line with the filing of COCs.
Comelec Region 12 has jurisdiction over the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.
Although a part of Region 12’s administrative coverage, Cotabato City is under the Comelec in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
In line with the security preparations, Abas advised local candidates to exert the necessary efforts to avert possible untoward incidents during the filing of the COCs.
He said local political camps should properly watch over their supporters and make sure that their planned activities will be peaceful and orderly.
“We’re calling on our candidates to watch their own ranks and make sure that they are orderly when coming to our offices to file their COCs,” he said.
Although the filing of COCs in the region had turned out generally smooth and orderly in the past elections, authorities are not discounting possible disruptions as seen in previous incidents that occurred in other regions.
Among them was the grisly massacre of 58 people, including 32 media workers, in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.
A group of armed men allegedly led by Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. held and later killed members of the family of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, their lawyers and 32 media workers who were on their way to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor at the Comelec provincial office in Shariff Aguak town.
The Department of Justice had filed 58 counts of murder against the late former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.; his sons Andal Jr. and Zaldy, former governor of ARMM; several clan members; and at least 180 militiamen in connection with the massacre.