During the height of skirmishes between government soldiers and Moro rebels since the 1970s, Camp Rajah Muda – the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) third largest camp that straddles several barangays in Pikit, North Cotabato – saw only violence.
Decades later, the same tension prevailed in the area during election periods, when armed candidates fight it out with each other.
During last Wednesday’s plebiscite on the inclusion of 67 barangays in seven towns of North Cotabato, it was noticeably different.
There was no tension at all even though armed government soldiers and members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces could both be seen inside the camp. People came in whatever mode of transportation – on foot, bicycles, motorcycles, pump boats, even farm equipment – so they could cast their votes in this historic electoral exercise.