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GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Gunmen rained bullets on a house in Maguindanao del Norte, killing a man and wounding a barangay peace-keeping volunteer on Monday, October 23, the same day that police officers and soldiers arrived to augment security personnel in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The gun attack happened at noontime, in broad daylight, in Sultan Mastura town, where authorities found at least 30 empty bullet shells of various calibers of guns near the house of the victim.
Sultan Mastura police chief Captain Elmar Elarcosa said witnesses saw three gunmen who fired shots at the house of Abdul Nor Benasing Palog, killing him instantly and hurting peace-keeping volunteer Tahiran Succor. Palog was a pedicab driver.
The incident took place just as the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the BARMM mobilized around 8,190 police personnel to step up security in the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and the cities of Cotabato, Marawi, Lamitan, and Isabela.
The BARMM police has so far been augmented by around 800 police officers from Regions X, XI, XII, and the National Capital Region, said Bangsamoro police director Brigadier General Allan Nobleza on Monday, October 23.
A contingent of soldiers from the Army’s 7th Infantry Division also arrived over the weekend from Luzon. They will join other military units already deployed in the BARMM, where 70% of the country’s “areas of grave security concern” are located.
There are now more than five election-related violence incidents in BARMM after a shootout that killed two candidates for barangay councilors and a third victim in Cotabato City on Monday evening.
In that incident, police arrested a dozen suspects, including an incumbent barangay official who is seeking a higher post and a police officer, said Cotabato City police director Colonel Querubin Manalang Jr.
Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad “Bruce” Matabalao said that despite the imposition of a gun ban, local officials found it alarming and unacceptable that some people continued to resort to gun violence.
City hall warned that the blatant defiance of the gun ban will not be tolerated, and those accountable will face severe consequences.
At a press briefing on Monday, Nobleza said the police will be ready to take on any group that will sow lawlessness and disrupt the conduct of the elections on October 30. – Rappler.com