First Maguindanao town candidates sign peace pact
Koronadal City (9 February) -- Combined efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines 9AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) continue to sustain the relatively peaceful situation in Maguindanao and to ensure that the national elections in the area this coming May is free, fair and peaceful.
Authorities attribute the prevailing peaceful situation in Maguindanao to the existing state of emergency and strict compliance to the Suspension of Military operations (SOMO) and MILF's Suspension of Military Actions (SOMA).
Seeking the support and cooperation of local officials and political candidates in the coming May polls, the AFP, PNP and the Commission on Elections (COMLEC0 created the Joint Security Control Center (JSCC) focused on regular talks with local officials and political candidates to sign peace pact.
The Army's 603rd Brigade Deputy Commander and JSCC co-chair Col. Herbert Yambing said, all political candidates in the province of Maguindanao have expressed their willingness to sign a peace covenant.
Last February 6, the JSCC and media witnessed the signing of a peace pact between and among local candidates in the mayoralty race down to the members of the municipal council in the town of Northern Kabuntalan in Maguindanaa, commiting themselves to renounce violence, intimidation and bribery in pursuit of their personal agenda in favor of an orderly and credible elections.
Yambing said, through the signing of the peace covenant the candidates would take it upon themselves to act as watchdogs and to prevent attempts to sow terror and disrupt the electoral process.
"We have a lot of armed groups of unkown affiliation within this province and part of the job of this JSCC is to communicate these people, laluna na iyong mga dating CVOs na sinasabi," Yambing said.
It is the thrust of the AFP and PNP that as much as possible these CVOs particularly those who were not involved in the Nov. 23 incident to invite them to a dialogue so they could be placed on legal footage, he said.
"Ibig sabihin, dadalhin natin sila sa isang legal na lugar, hindi iyong nagtatago sila sa mga pulis, military at mga ka-rido nila, may mga pamilya rin sila kaya ang nangyayari nagiging rustlers, looters sila," he added.
While the military and police forces remain non-partisan, Yambing assured combat operations are focused on neutralizing these armed groups,
Yambing is confident that the balloting in the area would be peaceful and orderly with the continuous dialogue urging local candidates to sign and adhere to a peace covenant. (pbc/PIA) [top]