Cotabato City, Philippines
Some 6,347 personnel personnel were deployed to guard 1,195 polling sites in the five provinces under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Brig. Gen. Arthur Cabalona, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR), said Thursday the contingent includes 706 Reaction Standby Support Force and 405 Quick Reactionary Force personnel for deployment to Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces.
Tension has markedly been high in some towns in both provinces owing to the deep-seated political animosity among local clans.
Besides Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, BARMM also covers the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Lamitan, Marawi and Cotabato.
Officials of PRO-BAR and lawyer Ray Sumalipao, regional director for BARMM of the Commission on Elections, led Wednesday the symbolic send off of police units from Camp SK Pendatun in Parang, Maguindanao.
The event was witnessed by Brig. Gen. Eduardo Gubat of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and Col. Eric Macaambac, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade.
The Army’s 6th ID, the Philippine Navy’s 1st Marine Brigade, and the unit of the Philippine Coast Guard in BARMM under Capt. Rehard Marfe are helping the Bangsamoro region to guard strategic areas in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
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There have been many incidents of electoral violence in the Bangsamoro region, where there are warlords perpetuating political power via their private armed groups.
The worst election-related violence in the region was the November 23, 2009 murder of 58 people, 38 of them local media practitioners, by followers of the Ampatuan clan in Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao. (John Unson)