ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines
A Zamboanga Sibugay town that was formerly a haven of extortionists and bandits is off from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) list of concern, which officials attributed to the improved peace situation seven years after the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace agreement.
Two of the 16 municipalities in the province are under Orange category, lawyer Ahmad Taib Musa, provincial election supervisor, said.
These towns are Mabuhay and Alicia, said Musa.
Tungawan town, known as a haven of lawless elements, is longer in the list of areas where there is a need to beef up the security during the May 2022 elections, he said. The 113 Base Command of the MILF is the hinterland part of the town.
For the past six years, according to Tungawan mayor Carlnan Climaco, the peace and order condition has greatly improved “thanks to the peace agreement.”
“The 2019 elections was the most peaceful election we had here,” Climaco, the nephew of former Mayor Randy Climaco, who was slain in the ambush in 2015, told Rappler.
The establishment of a joint peace and security of the government and MILF contributed a lot to the improved peace and order condition, he added.
The Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST), manned by government forces and MILF combatants, was deployed in Barangay Datu Tumanggong of Tungawan town in October of last year. JPST is one of the peace mechanisms outlined under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
With the peace and security team, the lawless elements had been deprived of a place where they could hide, explained Climaco.
Under the green category, the mayor expects a generally peaceful election in the town.
Different areas in the country have been placed under Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red categories.
Orange areas like Mabuhay and Alicia towns are areas where there have been recorded presence of armed groups, Musa clarified.
Areas under Red category, which means areas of grave concern where the combined factors of Yellow category and serious armed threats, will be placed under Comelec control during the poll.
“We will be closely monitoring the elections in these towns,” he said. (The Sun Monitor)