By Edwin Fernandez

(File photo)

COTABATO CITY – Two candidates for village council and a supporter were killed while installing campaign posters in Barangay Rosary Heights 12 here Monday night.

Lt. Col. Carmelo Mungkas, city police spokesperson, identified the fatalities as Nur-Moqtadin K.  Butucan, a candidate for village council in Barangay Rosary Heights (RH) 12; Alfar Singh Ayunan Pasawilan, a candidate for village councilman in Barangay Kalanganan 2; and supporter Faizal Abas, also of Barangay Kalanganan 2.

Injured were Saipul Sapalon and Fajeed Daud, both of Barangay Kalanganan 2.

“Our initial investigation showed that the victims were putting tarpaulin and other propaganda materials in Barangay RH 12 when fired upon by gunmen at about 9 p.m.,” Mungkas said.

At least 12 persons have been invited for questioning at the city’s Police Station 1 following the incident.

The police, backed by Philippine Marines recovered an M16 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, and a 9mm handgun in the area.

“The situation is under control. Hopefully, no similar incident will take place in the coming days,” Mungkas said.

Cotabato City Mayor Bruce Matabalao condemned the incident and suspended classes in at least four public schools near the crime scene.

“I also appeal for sobriety among the city residents,” Matabalao said.

Monday night’s shootout in this city is the 12th election-related incident recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Augmentation force

Meanwhile, at least 500 more police personnel were deployed in strategic areas of North Cotabato province for the maintenance of peace and order ahead of the Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.

Col. Harry Ramos, the North Cotabato Provincial Police (NCCPO) police director, officially turned over the augmentation force to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during a simple ceremony on Monday afternoon.

Lawyer Myla Luna, the provincial election supervisor, said the augmentation “will be supported by the Commission to perform their responsibilities.” `

Capt. April Rose Soria, NCPPO spokesperson, said the augmentation personnel came from the police’s Highway Patrol Group, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Regional Mobile Force Battalion, and Provincial Mobile Force Company who will be deployed in the province’s 17 municipalities and one city.

“The augmentation personnel will be assigned in polling precincts near police stations and villages considered non-conflict zones, deeming their limited familiarity of terrains,” she said, adding that the group will work with the 1,200-strong NCCPO police force. (PNA)