MNLF and MILF list 6 Lanao del Norte hotspots and seek to consolidate polling stations

The two main Muslim movements in the Philippines are offering to deploy their members to help ensure peaceful elections in these areas

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The two former rebel movements in the Philippines, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), on Thursday (February 17th) proposed the consolidation of “high risk” voting areas “. in six towns in Lanao del Norte during the election period.

A joint MNLF and MILF report identified the towns of Nunungan, Munai, Pantar, Tagoloan, Matungao and Magsaysay in Lanao del Norte where election violence could likely erupt.

The MNLF-MILF report was presented at a two-day risk assessment meeting organized by the interfaith and non-governmental organization Pakigdait Incorporated in Cagayan de Oro.

In addition to asking the Electoral Commission (Comelec) to consolidate polling centers in the six cities, the MNLF and MILF also offered to deploy their members to help ensure peaceful and orderly elections.

PREVIEW. Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Adrian Dowa outlines the political situation in Lanao del Norte during a consultation meeting in Cagayan de Oro on Thursday, February 17. (Froilan Gallardo/Rappler)

Hanif Salindawan, a representative of the 102nd base command of the MILF, said he foresees massive vote-buying in these areas, the deployment of flying voters and partisan armed groups, the presence of electoral agents and biased teachers who would serve in polling stations, and the occurrence of existing to roll (clan feuds). This would likely lead to election violence, he added.

Salindawan said communist New People’s Army rebels could also take advantage of the situation, particularly in Tagoloan, near the Lanao del Sur and Cagayan de Oro town limits. The city of Lanao del Norte is different from the municipality of the same name in the province of Misamis Oriental.

“These are our conclusions based on the history of these cities on election day,” Salindawan said.

Musa Sanguila, a representative from Pakigdait, said partisan groups in these areas used to buy votes, with bribes ranging from P300 to P3,000 per voter, a tempting amount for voters. poor families whose income does not exceed 11 P. 000 per month in 2019.

He said the groups that participated in the two-day meeting in Cagayan de Oro are determined to ensure peaceful and orderly elections.

“It’s the same old issues with every election, but what’s significant here is that fighters from both groups (MNLF and MILF) have come together to help,” Sanguila said.

Col. Isaias Bacurnay Jr., director of police in Lanao del Norte, said the joint report by MILF and MNLF “differed slightly” from the assessment made by police.

He said the Philippine National Police had only identified the towns of Lanao del Norte, Salvador and Munai as “areas of concern”. The municipality of Salvador is not on the MNLF-MILF list.

“We based our assessment on these cities’ history of violence in each election, but these findings from the MILF and MNLF are new developments that need to be carefully considered,” Bacurnay said. – Rappler.com

Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and winner of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship

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