BULUAN, MAGUINDANAO: Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu asked that political candidates to file their Certificate of Candidacy (COC) in the nearest Commission on Elections (Comelec) office next week, citing security reasons.

At the provincial peace and order council meeting here on Wednesday, Mangudadatu highlighted issues including security concerns in hot spot areas during the election.

“We want a peaceful and successful conduct of this coming election, let us forget the past,” the incumbent governor told reporters here at the sidelight of the meeting.

Mangudadatu, who is planning to run for his last term, said he has requested the Comelec to provide a venue in Buluan town for COC filing for those who have security concerns so they do not have to travel to the Comelec office in Cotabato City and also to avoid confrontations with their rivals that may lead to violence.

Maguindanao is known for election-related violence including the Maguindanao massacre on November 23, 2009 wherein 58 people including 32 journalists were killed. They were accompanying the wife of Governor Mangungudatu, who was on her way to the Comelec office to file his COC.

Also present at the meeting were the army’s 6th Infantry Division commanding officer Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, police Provincial Director Sr. Supt. Nickson Muksan, Representatives of the Joint Normalization Committee, government peace panel legal team, Comelec election supervisor lawyer Udtog Tago, mayors, and teacher supervisors.

In their presentation, the military highlighted the recent major violent incidents that occurred in Salvu, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak areas and northern parts of Maguindanao.

Since April, there were 35 incidents of harassment, killing and bombing believed to have been committed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters whose targets were military personnel and establishments.

Another 46 incidents were recorded in northern parts of Maguindanao where carnapping, shooting, firefight, arson, strafing, looting and grenade explosion were also reported.

The military also expressed their concern over the presence of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front in the area.

Muksan said they plan to augment their forces in six towns namely Sultan sa Borangis, Datu Unsay, Radjah Buayan, Sultan Mastura and Matanog with the support from the military during the filing of COCs.

Schools division Superintendent Meriam Kawit asked for protection for teachers who will serve in the coming polls.

Kawit said many teachers received “death threats” from unknown personalities.