The Inbox

Barangay officials loiter in ARMM registration sites; gun ban till July 23

Text by Artha Kira Paredes and Amiel Mark Cagayan

Photos and Video by Amiel Mark Cagayan

VERA Files

COTABATO CITY— Barangay officials in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have been sighted in registration sites since Day 1 of the ongoing general voters' registration, in violation of election rules promulgated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

This is one of the observations of Task Force Rehistro (TFR), according to Father David Procalla who is one of the co-chairpersons of TFR and head of the civil society watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in ARMM.

TFR was created under Executive Order 20 signed by OIC Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman on July 2, 2012, and is headed by the regional governor, with the PPCRV regional head, Police Regional Director Chief Supt. Mario Avenido and Commanding General Rey Ardo of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army as co-chairs.

Members include representatives from 12 government agencies and
nongovernment organizations.

Its mandate is to "primarily carry out the conduct and implementation of thorough and massive campaign for the new general registration of voters throughout" ARMM.

Procalla said the presence of barangay officials in the registration areas is a clear violation of Comelec Resolution 9475 that sets the rules and regulations in the conduct of general registrations in ARMM.

Under Section 7(d) of the resolution, which was promulgated en banc last June 21, "any barangay official, whether elected or appointed" is not allowed to enter the registration center and should be 10 meters away.

Only the election officers, assistant election officers, operators of the voters' registration machines (VRMs), the applicant and other persons authorized by Comelec are allowed inside the registration centers.

The officials could be at the registration sites "out of good will" but it is "not good to insist on being present" because this questions the credibility of the election process, Procalla said.

"It raises doubts and eyebrows," he added.

Another observation is that police and military have been helping in the registration but he said is not a question of anomaly but of restrictions on the rules.

Also under Section 7 or "persons not allowed to enter" the registration centers are members of the police, military, "peace officer or any armed person belonging to any extra-legal police agency, special forces, reaction forces, strike forces…para-military forces" and "all other kinds of armed or unarmed extra-legal police forces."

He said police and military should be given authority to strictly implement distance so that there will be no need for the EO to call the attention of the security personnel.

A policeman stands guard at the registration in Timanan, South Upi, Maguindanao. Photo by AMIEL MARK CAGAYAN.A policeman stands guard at the registration in Timanan, South Upi, Maguindanao. Photo by AMIEL MARK CAGAYAN.

But generally, Procalla said that except for the tension on the first day, the ongoing registrations are generally going well. He said there are
1,297 PPCRV volunteers in place who have been assigned to monitor VRM each.

Myrna Jo Henry, TFR representative and information officer of the
Bureau of Public Information, said that there are 1,046 VRM machines in
ARMM now and 400 others on standby.

As of April 2011, the total registered voters of ARMM was 1,778,817
and with each machine with a minimum target of 170 to 200 registrants
a day, 10 days is ample time to register, she said.

The predicament is just how to convince eligible voters to register
within the 10-day period, she said.

Meanwhile, the gun ban will still be in effect until July 23. The registration will end on July 18.

Earlier, members of the 51st Infantry Battalion of the Army confiscated an M-14 rifle from a civilian who was involved in a family feud in Barangay Purug in Pualas, Lanao del Sur.

Regional Police Chief Avenido said the gun ban prevented armed groups from terrorizing and harassing voters in ARMM every time there are activities related to politics.

ARMM is composed of the cities of Marawi and Lamitan, and the provinces of
Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.

Based on Commission on Election (COMELEC) Resolution No. 9479 which
was promulgated last June 27 in relation to the ARMM general registration, the scope of gun-ban will be increased to areas outside of ARMM that have large populations of Muslims, including the cities of Cotabato, Zamboanga and Isabela; and the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.

Based on the loose firearms assessment of the PNP for the whole country last 2010, ARMM ranks second in having the most number of loose firearms which was estimated at 114,189.

Maguindanao is still in a state of emergency, two years after the heinous Maguindanao Massacre on November 2009 where 58 were killed, including family and relatives of incumbent Maguindanao Governor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu and 33 journalists.

(ARMM WATCH  is a project of VERA Files in partnership with MindaNews, The Asia Foundation and Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by  veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. VERA is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors
    No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors

    Instead of filing an opposition, ombudsman prosecutors filed a manifestation yesterday expressing belief that there is no urgent need for Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to visit his son at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. “Based on the clinical abstract issued by the Asian Hospital on patient (Cavite) Vice-governor (Jolo) Revilla, which was submitted by accused Revilla in support of his Urgent Motion, Vice-governor Revilla is in stable condition and has stable vital signs, as of March 1, …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
    How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

    CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options