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AFP calls on Mindanao voters not to be deterred by reports of violence

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By Francis Wakefield

Don’t be afraid and go out and vote.

This was the call made by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo on Monday, following reports of election-related violent incidents in some parts of Mindanao.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo (PNA/MANILA BULLETIN)

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo (PNA/MANILA BULLETIN)

In an interview, Arevalo asked the public not to be intimidated and exercise their right to vote.

“Huwag matakot lalo na ang ating mga kababayan, bomoto sila sapagkat kapag hindi nila ginawa ang exerise ng kanilang political rights ay nanalo na sila [The people should not be afraid to vote because if they don’t exercise their political rights then they [enemy] already won],” Arevalo said.

“So gawin lang nila bomoto lang sila at sisiguruhin natin na hindi magtatagumpay itong mga perpetrators na ito lalo na sa kanilang maitim na balaking ito [So all they need to do is to vote and we will ensure that the perpetrators will not succeed in their plan],” he said.

Arevalo, in the same interview, insisted that the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) were on top of the situation to ensure peaceful and orderly elections.

According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), voting will be up to 6 p.m. Monday.

“What’s clear here is that their (perpetrators) motive is to put fear on the voters so that they won’t vote,” Arevalo said.

The military Monday said that series of election-related violent incidents were recorded in some parts of Mindanao over the last 24 hours.

The latest election-related violent incident took place at Poblacion Dalican, Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), Maguindanao, when a blast caused by an undetermined type of explosive took place at about 7:20 a.m. Monday

Military and police operatives immediately responded to the explosion site to cordon off the area and to possibly apprehend the perpetrators.

All units were informed of the incident and directed them to continuously be alert and implement checkpoint operations.

No one was hurt or killed in the incident.

At about about 9:35 p.m., Sunday (May 12), intelligence personnel from the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, led by S/Sgt. Richard V. Gacias, while conducting covert security and liasing operations at Brgy. Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, discovered a container suspected to be improvised explosive device (IED).

Immediately, troops informed Lt. Col. Ernesto E. Gener Jr., the commanding officer of the 57th Infantry Battalion regarding the discovered IED and recovered one handheld radio , black powder (main charge), assorted concrete nails, and one improvised blasting cup.

Troops conducted area security and cordoned the IED site and temporarily controlled/hold the commuters while waiting for the arrival of the EOD team.

At about 2:15 p.m. the same day, the 32nd EOD and K9 teams arrived in the area and conducted paneling, afterwhich, rendered safety procedure (RSP) and successfully recovered/disrupt the IED. The iED were brought by the EOD team at the 601st Brigade, old Capitol, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, for proper disposition.

At about 2 p.m May 12. an explosion was heard at the Southwest direction outside Cotabato City Hall, particularly at Matalam St., Malagpas RH10. Cotabato City. Fragments (bullet) of an M 203 grenade launcher were recovered in the area.

The identity of the perpetrators are yet to be determined but their position was plotted more or less 200 meters south of the site of the explosion near the river bank.

According to the military, the motive behind the incident is to possibly disrupt the sorting of voting paraphernalias that will be use on election day.

No casualty was reported in the incident.

At about 2:30 p.m. the same day, a shooting incident transpired near Datu Unsay Public Market, Brgy. Meta, Datu Unsay, Maguidanao, wherein a certain Jack Ebrahim, 27, married, a resident of Brgy. Meta, Datu Unsay, Maguindanao, was shot by an unknown assailant hitting him on his left thigh.

Upon hearing the gunshots, 2nd Lt. Jefty John R. Llana, team leader of the security forces at Datu Unsay Public Market asked the civilians to drop and find safe cover.

A civilian was wounded as a result of the incident and was taken to Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital.

At about 1:35 p.m., a certain Nasrudin Upam, son of commander Rakman, brigade commander of the MILF and right hand man of mayoralty candidate Zaharra Ampatuan, was shot by an unidentified perpetrator while standing in the vicinity of a Shariff Aguak Market fruit stand, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

He was hit in the right arm and brought by a civilian to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

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