Ambush mars Pax Mangudadatu’s filing of COC for ARMM governor

Ambush mars Pax Mangudadatu’s filing of COC for ARMM governor

By Anthony S. Allada

ISULAN, SULTAN KUDARAT – Tension heats up as the upcoming Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections draw near after a convoy of a gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial candidates were ambushed by unidentified suspects Sunday afternoon in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.

Six persons, who were supporters of Datu Pax S. Mangudadatu and Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, both running for ARMM governor and vice governor, respectively, were wounded in the attack, described by the Commission on Elections as the first election-related incident before the August 8 polls.

The victims, Wahida Kla, wife of barangay captain, Barangay Kagawad Abdulatip Tongco, Salahuddin Sangki Labnan, Norodin Buagas, Aladin Malgas and Norodin Malgas, were riding a passenger Toyota Town Ace on their way home in Barangay Kakal, Ampatuan, Maguindanao at around 4:30 p.m.

According to Norodin Puti in an interview, one of the companions of the victims riding the vehicle, said he saw five suspects just wearing t-shirts and short pants armed with M-16 Armalite rifles and M-14 assault rifles and sprayed them with bullets.

Puti said their driver, Norodin Malgas was wounded but still managed to continue driving while the gunmen also continued to fire at them until they reached the town proper of Datu Ampatuan. The wounded were immediately transferred to another vehicle and brought to the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Only Salahuddin Sangki Labnan, a relative of the wife of Sultan Kudarat Governor Datu Suharto “Teng” Mangudadatu, was reported to be in serious condition.

After learning the incident, the other convoy returned to their direction and passed the other road, the Cotabato City-North Cotabato highway in going home to Isulan.

Mangudadatu described the incident as a harassment to withdraw his candidacy. “But I am more challenged to push through with my candidacy to show to the people of ARMM that he is serious in putting harmony in the Muslim region.

He did not immediately put the blame on a certain political foe, adding let the authorities do its investigation to identify the suspects.

Mangudadatu was the sixth gubernatorial candidate who filed his COC Sunday morning. Former Indanan mayor Alvares Isnaji and incumbent Lanao del Sur First District Rep. Pangalian Balindong were also running for governor. Three others were considered nuisance candidates.

His running mate, Cojuangco, the aunt of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and a former governor of Tarlac, filed her COC Sunday afternoon. She was accompanied by her husband, former Tarlac Rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, and Mangudadatu, and a number of supporters.

The Mangudadatu-Cojuangco tandem promised change and reforms to ARMM if elected and vowed not to steal the money of the people.

Datu Pax S. Mangudadatu shows a copy of his COC after filing his candidacy for ARMM governor at the Comelec regional office in Mabini St., Cotabato City on Sunday morning.

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