The Inbox

  • By Pop M. Salahog, VERA Files and I-Watch

    Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao—All the barangay candidates in this town can already claim victory even before village elections take place nationwide on Monday.

    Candidates for the 34barangay captain positions and 236 kagawad positions here will be running unopposed, according to newly appointed Election Officer Christina Roan Dalope.

    This means all the 34barangay each have one set of candidates composed of one barangay captain and seven kagawad. Filing of certificates of candidacies ended Oct. 17.

    Datu Odin Sinsuat has the biggest number of registered voters—45,771—in the whole of Maguindanao.

    Since 2004 even the municipal posts were won unopposed, Dalope said.

    The practice of running in elections unrivalled traces its origin to kalilintad, a program started in 1998 by former Mayor Datu Ombra Sinsuat to maintain peace and harmony among local officials. His son Datu Ombra retained the practice when he became mayor in 2004.

    Abdulrahaman Amil, the

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  • By VERA Files

    Cotabato City— Candidates for barangay elections in this city spent the last day of the campaign period engaging in partisan activity that violated the Omnibus Election Code, but no one stopped them or even called them to task for their offense.

    After signing the covenant for peaceful elections at the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College Gymnasium, candidates held simultaneous motorcades and marches around the city that showed everything barangay election campaigning shouldn’t be.

    Under the Omnibus Election Code or Batasang Pambansa (BP) 881, barangay elections should be non-partisan. This means that candidates should have no political affiliations and barangay captains no lineup of councilors.

    But this was not the case when candidates made their last minute campaigns around the city.

    Candidates in red, supposedly the signature color of incumbent mayor Japal Guiani, paraded along De Mazenod Avenue followed by supporters honking their motorcycles, jeeps and other

    Read More »from Violations in election code seen in last day of campaign
  • Precincts located on Bongo Island in Parang, Maguindanao are among the most inaccessible in Maguindanao. It takes three hours by motorboat ride from Cotabato City. During low tide, residents are forced to walk at least half kilometer from the shoreline because of the damaged pier. (File photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA)By Artha Kira Paredes, VERA Files

    Cotabato City — Election officers in Maguindanao say priority and fast lanes will be set aside for persons with disabilities, senior citizens and pregnant women as part of government’s move to make polling places “accessible” on election day on Monday.

    But the special lanes aren’t enough, they are the first to admit, as many hindrances have long made elections inaccessible not only to these voters, but also majority of the province’s 482,947 registered voters.

    Dito pagka accessible, basta mapuntahan lang (As long as we can reach the precinct, then it is accessible),” Maguindanao Provincial Election Supervisor lawyer Udtog Tago said as he explained the difficulties and challenges both voters and the boards of election tellers (BET) in the province face every elections. Monday’s barangay elections will be no different.

    Passed this year, Republic Act 10366 authorizes the Commission on Elections to establish accessible polling places exclusively for PWDs

    Read More »from Redefining poll ‘accessibility’ in Maguindanao
  • By Dexter Cabalza and Melissa Luz Lopez, VERA Files

    More than half of recorded deaths from rido or clan wars in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) since 1993 were politically motivated, according to the Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission (RRUC).

    The 2013 report of the RRUC traced at least 170 of 313 deaths resulting from rido to political violence.

    Click image to see rido map

    Elections in the region often cause tension among families as clans would fiercely defend their bailiwicks by dominating barangay and municipal positions.

    Political tensions often result in rido, a chain of violent events between feuding families. Rido is considered a major problem in Mindanao, as the armed conflict causes deaths and damages the local economy.

    For the Oct. 28 barangay elections, the Commission on Elections has identified 959 of 2,940 barangays in the ARMM as areas of concern, the highest in the country.

    Since 2003, only 90 of 228 rido cases have been settled while 138 cases remain unresolved,

    Read More »from More than half of rido deaths due to politics, says report

  • By Artha Kira Paredes, VERA Files

    PARANG, Maguindanao— Like a priest sending his flock off to spread the word of peaceful elections, the policechief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Saturday admonished policemen and women serving in Monday's barangay elections to follow the Blessed Virgin Mary’s example of making the right decision.

    This, ARMM Police Chief Superintendent Noel de los Reyes said, means that law enforcers should decide what is good not for themselves but for the entire country.

    The region has been known for massive fraud and violence during elections and been called "the cheating capital." Some law enforcers have been accused of being party to poll irregularities in the area.

    At sendoff rites at Camp Bgen Salipada K. Pendatun herefor the 1,310 policemen and women to be deployed for elections in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, De los Reyes said, "Sa mga darating na mga araw, kayo po ay mapipilitang gumawa ng desisyon. Ang paalala ko lang po sa inyo,

    Read More »from Make the right decision like ‘Mama Mary,’ cops in ARMM polls told
  • 1:VotersGuide2013

    By Cherry Joy Veniles, VERA Files

    Unlike the May 2013 automated polls, the barangay election on Monday is a return to basics: manual voting where pens, blank ballots and a good old blackboard/whiteboard are the order of the day.

    After reading through a certified list of candidates stapled inside ballot secrecy folders, voters will fill up their ballots by writing in the corresponding spaces the names of their preferred candidates -- one barangay chair and seven councilors.

    Voting will start at 7 in the morning and end at 3 p.m. in designated polling places nationwide. After this, the Board of Election Tellers (BET) will publicly count the votes and ascertain results inside the polling places.

    The “new process” was explained on Saturday by Jerico Jimenez of the San Juan City Comelec Office to a group of teachers who will sit as BET on Election Day. Unlike the automated mid-term elections, votes for the barangay council seats would be read and recorded by the BET and not by PCOS

    Read More »from Back to basics for the barangay elections
  • Text by Artha Kira Paredes, VERA Files
    Photo and Video by Amiel Mark Cagayan, I-Watch

    Taguntong, Maguindanao C-CARE Coordinator (Amiel Mark Cagayan)

    Cotabato City— The candidates for barangay polls arrived at the same time and wore political colors and party uniforms, revealing the partisan nature of village elections.

    This is among the observations of election monitor Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reform, Inc (C-CARE), a poll watchdog group in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

    C-CARE provincial coordinator for Maguindanao Bobby Taguntong said that when candidates for this year’s barangay polls filed their certificates of candidacy in Maguindanao, there was no doubt about their political affiliations.

    This, he said, goes against the Omnibus Election Code, that states the conduct of barangay election shall be “non-partisan.” The Code also says no candidate “shall represent or allow himself to be represented as a candidate of any political party or any other organization.”

    But candidates for barangay polls practically disregarded

    Read More »from Barangay polls turn partisan, contrary to Election Code
  • By Daniel Abunales, VERA Files

    Zamboanga City – In tomorrow’s barangay elections, there will be 20 polling places across the country where public school teachers will work alongside private individuals as election tellers.

    Jose Augustus Villano, chair of Legal Network for Truthful Elections-Zamboanga. Photo by DANIEL ABUNALES/VERA Files

    Under an arrangement with the Commission on Elections, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) will be fielding citizen volunteers in 20 pre-selected polling precincts so that the Board of Election Tellers (BET) in these places will have one or two non-public school teachers.

    This is part of a research called ‘Project Teacher’ proposed by LENTE and approved last September by the Comelec that aims to support and promote electoral reforms, in particular Senate bills seeking to remove the mandatory election function duty of public school teachers.

    Jose Augustus Villano, chair of Lente Zamboanga, said they will monitor the 20 precincts to gather data and get feedback from the citizen volunteers who will carry out election duties in tandem with public school

    Read More »from Citizen volunteers to serve as election tellers
  • A person with disability updates his voter’s information at a special registration for the May midterm polls in Rizal. (Photo by MARIO IGNACIO IV)

    By Darlene Cay, VERA Files

    Over 54 million Filipinos will be electing barangay officials on Monday, but in special polling precincts for persons with disabilities, only 10 will be able to cast their votes.

    The Commission on Elections has assigned four SM malls nationwide as pilot accessible polling places for PWDs and senior citizens.

    Calling this exercise as an “experiment,” Commissioner Grace Padaca says the APPs for Monday will set the tone for efforts to prepare for the full implementation of the poll accessibility law, Republic Act 10366, in the 2016 elections.

    Under Comelec Resolution 9797, the poll body approved the creation of APPs in four SM malls. The polling places will be at the ground floor and voting time will be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    For PWDs and senior citizens to vote in the APPs, the law requires PWDs to give their consent to be transferred from their regular precincts. Of the 229 voters who agreed to vote in the APPs, only four PWDs will be voting in SM Cebu, three

    Read More »from Only 10 PWDs to vote in special polling places
  • Basilan's potential election hotspots

    By Melissa Luz Lopez, VERA Files

    Poll watchdog Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms Inc (C-CARE) says one in every three barangays in Basilan are potential areas of concern in Monday’s elections and recommends an increase in the number of security personnel in those villages.

    C-CARE says unstable peace and order situations have been observed in 92 of 255 Basilan barangays, and that at least 17 of them have unsettled rido, or clan wars due to political conflicts. (See: Clan wars map)

    Barangays with a history of violence are potential areas of concern. The Philippine National Police (PNP) has identified 6,195 villages of the total 42,028 around the country as "areas of concern" based on cases of election violence and political rivalry, the existence of private armed groups and the proliferation of firearms.

    According to C-CARE, Barangays Upper and Lower Mahayahay in Malusoare potential areas of concern given the violence there during the May 13 polls. A failure of elections was

    Read More »from One-third of Basilan villages areas of concern


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