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Elections in ARMM failed to defeat warlordism

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Elections in ARMM failed to defeat warlordism

Post by Justin_Romile on Wed May 19, 2010 9:44 am

KIDAPAWAN CITY - Despite speed in counting and tabulation of election results, the May polls held at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were characterized with ‘warlordism’, a poll monitor in the region said.

‘Warlordism’, as defined, is the use of power, both military and civil control, over an area, where people are loyal to the ‘warlords’ than to the central authority.

Although automating the elections has brought significant improvement in vote-counting, the polls failed to break "the established system of ‘warlordism’ and ‘command votes’, where political leaders ‘dictated’ on the peoples’ choices, thus disregarding their right of suffrage," Salic Ibrahim, chair of the Citizens’ Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms (Citizens CARE) said.

Citizens CARE, an accredited citizens’ arm of the Comelec, fielded 6,750 volunteers to monitor the ARMM’s 3,388 clustered precincts last May 10.

The Citizens CARE volunteers monitored electoral irregularities before and during the elections.

In Tawi-Tawi province, poll volunteers reported the rampant vote buying where they have seen candidates soliciting votes in exchange for payment.

In Kapatagan, a hinterland town in Lanao Del Sur, Citizens CARE volunteers witnessed how the board of election inspectors (BEIs) and ‘flying’ voters filled out several ballots and fed them into the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

The secrecy of the ballot was also disregarded in most towns in Lanao Del Sur since many of the clustered precincts lack ballot secrecy folders during the elections.

“The election was not actually secret voting but an open one, since there were no ballot secrecy folders around," said the group in its press statement issued to media.

Seven of the 39 towns in Lanao Del Sur have failure of elections since many of the BEIs failed to show up last May 10 due to intimidations by local candidates, Citizens CARE reports added.

There was also delay in the transmission of canvassed votes from different municipalities in the ARMM due to poor signal, and power outages.

Some clustered precincts in eight towns in Lanao del Sur were not able to use the PCOS machines after they experienced problems during the testing and sealing of the equipment on May 8.

A PCOS machine in a clustered precinct in Ditsaan Ramain town, also in Lanao Del Sur, was allegedly burned by still unidentified suspects.

In Paraitan town, also in Lanao Del Sur, the delivery of a PCOS machine to a clustered precinct was prevented by a local official. The candidate threatened to shoot the technicians if they continued to transport the scanning machine.

Although the voting in Maguindanao was generally peaceful, election-related violent incidents on May 10 reported to have taken place in towns of Northern Kabuntalan, Datu Salibo, Datu Unsay, Paglat, and General SK Pendatun.

At least two deaths were recorded in Barangay Kapimpilan in Northern Kabuntalan after a firefight ensued between two warring parties.

In Barangay Mangal in Sumisip town in Basilan, members of a private army forcibly snatched the election materials, including the official ballots, from the BEIs.

In Barira town in Maguindanao, a group of armed men connected to a politician destroyed the PCOS machine intended to a clustered precinct.

The Citizens CARE, as an election monitoring in the ARMM founded in 2005, will continue to observe the conduct of the elections in the region.

To strengthen its task, the group has partnered with 36 non-government organizations (NGOs), civil society groups, academe, and other peoples’ organizations and organized the Regional Coordinating Council. - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV
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Justin_Romile

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