3 South Cotabato hotspots improve security situation

In his report to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Senior Supt. Robert Kiunisala, the South Cotabato police director, said the towns of T'boli, Polomolok and Norala have been reclassified to one notch lower as "areas of concern" “due to relatively stable security condition in the areas since the election campaigning started last March 30”.

The three towns were earlier placed under "areas of immediate concern" due to the noted presence of armed groups and past records of heated political contests in these areas. The regional Comelec office earlier recommended the deployment of additional troops in the three municipalities due to the reported surge of tension in the area as a result of the heated election campaigning.

The Army's 27th Infantry Battalion also issued a report to the Provincial Peace and Order Council identifying barangays Cacub in Koronadal City, Ned in Lake Sebu, Upper Sepaka in Surallah, Basag and Maan in T'boli and Lam-afus in Banga as potential election hotspots.

Lawyer Lilian Radam, provincial election supervisor, said the peace and order condition in the entire province has so far remained stable and no untoward incident related to the polls has been reported so far.

"I believe our politicians here are the type that would resort to violence just to win an election. So we're hoping that the province will remain peaceful until the last vote will be counted," Radam said.

Radam said she was counting on the commitments made by local candidates  during a candidates' forum in Koronadal City last Wednesday to ensure the conduct of an honest and fair elections on May 14.  Some 43 candidates vying for various local elective posts signed the candidates' manifesto and covenant for peaceful elections.