Comelec exec expects ‘peaceful’ Maguindanao polls

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 4 October)—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) supervisor in Maguindanao, Atty. Udtog Tago, has expressed hopes the 2013 elections in the province would not be as bloody as the 2010 polls.


Tago said the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC), which started Monday and will end Friday, has remained peaceful.


“Although there were fanfares during the COC filing, at the end of the day, the activity turned out peaceful,” said Tago.


It may be recalled that the rundown to the 2010 elections in Maguindanao was marred with violence in what is now known as the Ampatuan Massacre.


Fifty-eight people were killed, including the wife of then Buluan town vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, when their convoy was stopped along the national highway and then herded to the hilly Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town, where they were brutally murdered.


The gory manslaughter occurred on November 23, 2009 as the convoy was on its way to file Mangudadatu’s COC for governor in Shariff Aguak, the provincial capital. Mangudadatu, who did not join the convoy, eventually won the 2010 gubernatorial race.


Former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. allegedly led the men that stopped and killed the victims, which include 32 media workers.


His father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and brother Zaldy, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and several other family members were implicated in the manslaughter. They have been languishing in jail.


Tago said he does not expect the same bloody incident to happen again this time.


“ I know that the politicians here don’t want a violent election.   They just want to win, that’s all,” he said.


Mangudadatu and his party are expected to file today (Thursday) their COCs at the Comelec office in Cotabato City.


Mangudadatu earlier told reporters that this time, he would personally submit his COC at the Comelec office in Cotabato City.


He would be facing a former ally, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Datu Tucao Mastura, who filed his COC last Monday.


Donning yellow and red shirts and bringing balloons, hundreds of vehicles coming from Cotabato’s southern and northern ends flooded the city streets to show support for Mastura, provincial chair of the United Nationalist Alliance.

Mastura’s running mate is Talayan Mayor Datu Ali Midtimbang, a member of a known political clan in the second district of the province and father-in-law of former ARMM governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)