The Inbox

Comelec-NGO network works for IP-inclusive polls

By Mikhail Franz Flores, VERA Files

Mangyans voting in the 2010 polls. File photo.First, the detainees. Then, people with disabilities. Now, indigenous peoples.

The Commission on Elections is getting indigenous peoples (IPs) who are qualified voters to register and vote in next year's midterm elections.  The continuing general voter registration will end on Oct. 31.

Comelec liasion officer Tony Villasor said the poll body is planning to hold special IP registrations from June to August in selected areas in Luzon such as Tarlac, Zambales and Mindoro, and later in General Santos City and the Davao areas in Mindanao and in Palawan.

IPs account for roughly 12 percent of the country's 100 million population and are spread over 110 ethnic groups around the country. But government has no data on how many are of voting age.

"We have decided to help them (IPs) because if empowered, they can be a voice to reckon with in the Philippines," said Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, the Comelec's focal person in making the 2013 elections IP-inclusive.

Comelec is part of the Inter-agency and Nongovernmental Organization Network on Empowering Indigenous Peoples, a partnership of other government institutions, NGOs and peoples organizations created in January to help IPs exercise their right of suffrage.

The network also consists of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Ateneo School of Government, Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER), Katribu party-list, Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Lawyers League for Liberty (Libertas), Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Consultative Group on Indigenous Peoples.

In 2010, the Comelec provided a mechanism that enabled detainees to register and vote.  It held a special registration for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in July last week.  Another round of special registration for PWDs has been ongoing since March.  Sarmiento is also the focal person for these sectors.

The lack of legal documents such as birth certificates and government-issued identification cards has been identified as among the biggest hindrances to getting the IPs to register as voters. Other problems include the distance to polling precincts, lack of basic literacy, a different political system and lack of voter education.

"If you ask them, they would say I was born when the moon was full. If you ask them what your name is, they would say my name is Medicol because that is what they hear," Sarmiento said.

In the Aeta communities in Zambales, some are simply named Jefferson or Abraham because of the long influence of U.S.naval base in the area, Sarmiento adds.

In Resolution 9427 issued on May 17, however, IPs will be allowed to register even without identification cards or birth certificates.

According to the resolution, an IP may be identified under oath before the election officer using an affidavit of identification by any registered voter of the precinct or any of his or her relatives up to the fourth degree.

Comelec is also allowing allowed a certificate of confirmation issued by the NCIP as a valid form of identification.

IPs who are already registered can also update their registration records and indicate the community to which they belong.

The inter-agency network is also working out a voter education program for first-time IP voters based on a framework they can relate with.

Villasor said IP voters should be educated based on issues close to their heart such as ancestral domain and self-determination. He said IPs should learn "that they have a right and this election has an effect in (their) lives."

Government and civil society acknowledge that IP voters are vulnerable to harassment and exploitation by politicians.

Among the documented cases of exploitation are those of the Mangyans in Oriental Mindoro.

A group of lawyers and election officers who visited a Mangyan Reservation Area in Oriental Mindoro, home to around seven Mangyan tribes, has confirmed the "hamletting" cases in previous elections. The Mangyansvoters were rounded up and confined in a compound to coerce them to vote in favor of certain candidates.

Mangyan tribes include the Alangan, Iraya, Tadyawan, Tau-buwig, Bangun, Buhid and the Hanunuo.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media. …

  • Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears
    Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears

    Philippine health authorities said Wednesday they have quarantined a Filipino who arrived from the Middle East because he tested positive for the deadly MERS virus. The man, who arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday, is not yet showing symptoms but has been isolated in hospital, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. The Health Department is also quarantining the man's family and tracing the people who had contact with him during his flight to see if they may also be infected with the MERS or …

  • Philippine leader apologises over 'world's worst airport'
    Philippine leader apologises over 'world's worst airport'

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino publicly apologised on Wednesday for failures in air conditioning at Manila airport, already named by an online travel guide as the world's worst. The fresh debacle at Terminal 1, used by foreign airlines, came as millions of Filipinos begin travelling for the Easter holidays during one of the hottest months of the year. The transportation ministry also issued a separate public apology Wednesday, on the eve of four-day Easter holidays in the Catholic …

  • N. Korea protests to UK over Kim Jong-Un hair poster
    N. Korea protests to UK over Kim Jong-Un hair poster

    North Korea has written an official letter of complaint to Britain over a London hair salon's advert implying leader Kim Jong-Un has a bad hairstyle, the Foreign Office confirmed Thursday. The Stalinist state has failed to see the funny side of a discount haircuts advert featuring Kim at the M&M Hair Academy in Ealing, west London. …

  • Study: sleeping positions reflect quality of relationships
    Study: sleeping positions reflect quality of relationships

    Whether a couple sleeps face to face or back to back, with or without physical contact, is a good indicator of relationship health, according to a study presented at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, which is taking place in the Scottish city through April 20. Couples who sleep closer together in their bed at night are more likely to be happy in their relationship. This is just one of the conclusions of the first study to examine correlations between sleeping positions and …

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.

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    AFP News - Thu, Apr 17, 2014
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media. …

  • Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    LiveScience.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014
    Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    A group of researchers stumbled upon a grisly scene during a field study in Macedonia last year: a dead nose-horned viper with a centipede's head sticking out of its ruptured abdomen. "All of us were astonished, as nobody has ever seen something like this," Ljiljana Tomovi?, a herpetologist at the University of Belgrade, told Live Science in an email. The remnants of the death match were discovered when one researcher, Dragan Arsovski, turned over a stone, Tomovi? The unfortunate nose-horned …

  • Why Portland Reservoir Was Flushed After Teen Peed in It

    Why Portland Reservoir Was Flushed After Teen Peed in It

    LiveScience.com - 6 hours ago
    Why Portland Reservoir Was Flushed After Teen Peed in It

    Officials in Portland, Ore., are flushing 38 million gallons of public drinking water after a 19-year-old was caught on camera urinating into an open reservoir on Wednesday (April 16). As expected, the sample came back clean, Jaymee Cuti, a spokeswoman for the Portland Water Bureau, told Live Science. Officials acknowledged there was little public health risk from a small amount of urine in an open reservoir that is presumably exposed to the droppings of wild animals all the time. Bureau …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options