The Inbox

Exorcising the ghosts of registrations past

An Army soldier calls out the names of the registrants outside the voter registration center in Dinganun Primary …

By Carolyn O. Arguillas, MindaNews and VERA Files

Last of two parts

MAGUINDANAO —  If  the ghosts of registrations past are to be exorcised and electoral reforms are to take root in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) or the future  "new autonomous political entity," apathy must give way to active participation of  the citizenry to ensure the ill practices of the past are not allowed to pass this time,  Rasol Mitmug, OIC Speaker of the ARMM's Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) said.

Mitmug, who hails from Lanao del Sur, urged ARMM residents, election monitors and other civil society representatives to file formal complaints before the Election Registration Board as soon as the lists of applicants are posted on July 31.

The new voters' list-up began on July 9 and will end on July 18.

According to  the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the last day to file opposition to the applications for registration is on August 6 and hearings will be conducted on the approval or disapproval of applications on August 13 to 17.

M itmug told MindaNews that the 27-member RLA did not have a session last Monday to allow members to monitor the conduct of the registration in their respective districts.

He said he received complaints from the assemblymen who received similar complaints from residents in their districts such as hakot (hauling) of  registrants, multiple registrants, children lining up to register, slow process of registration, among others.

The Speaker, a lawyer, reminded RLA members that "for these complaints to be actionable, there must be formal complaints and documentation."

He stressed the importance of formalizing the complaints and documenting the irregularities so they can be properly guided in future legislations.

ARMM's OIC Executive Secretary, Anwar Malang expressed disappointment over the reported employment of children and outsiders to register. "We thought all the while they (politicians) will be regular in their activities," he told MindaNews on Wednesday.

He said the intent of the new listing was to cleanse the voters' list and yet, "baka lalong…." (it might just….)

"Electoral tourism"

Indah Enriquez, chair of the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms (C-Care), said the ongoing registration is being referred to as "electoral tourism" as registrants "fly, ride, take a ship/boat for free courtesy of our politicians in ARMM."

What is also alarming, she added,  is that a number of parents insist on having their underage children register, some even threatening the election officer.

She  said one of the problems noted is that  the election officers manning the registration centers come from regions outside the ARMM. "Tanggap lang sila ng mga applicants kahit pa underage" (they just receive applicants even if they underage and would just leave it to the Election Registration Board for the inclusion and exclusion of applicants.

Ardith Comin, Acting Election Officer of Sta. Rita, Pampanga who is serving as interviewer at the voter's registration center in Kamasi Elementary School, Ampatuan town, told MindaNews before registration started Monday that their task is merely ministerial.

"Tangap lang kami ng tanggap basta may requirements. Ministerial lang kami. Hindi kami ang mag-aaprove," (We just receive and receive provided they have the requirements. We are merely ministerial. We don't approve the applications), she said.

But Comin said they make notations if they doubt the registrant's age.

No failure of registration

On Thursday afternoon, Malang convened the ARMM's Task Force Rehistro, a coalition of the regional government and civil society groups, to assess the first four days of the 10-day registration.

He said the registration in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur yielded 300,000 applicants in the first three days. He estimates 800,000 more will register by July 18 as they expect 1.1 million registered voters, down from 1.77 million.

Malang acknowledged that the concerns raised during the meeting included the use of children to register,  "hakutan" (hauling) of registrants, and presence of military, police and barangay officials inside the registration centers.

He said they appealed to the barangay officials to stay away and told the police and military commanders that their task is not inside the center but to oversee the security situation.

He said members of the Cabinet have been deployed to also monitor the registration process.

Despite the complaints, Malang does  not consider the registration a failure. "Not yet a failure," he said, adding the reported irregularities had been forwarded to the Comelec.

Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo said he received a similar feedback.

"We have provided full support to Comelec and PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting).  They have to work on the exclusions. Will see how the final outcome looks like," he said. He vowed they will "still pursue cleansing even after registration."

For OIC Assemblywoman Samira Gutoc, the impact of the registration is "less obvious now but with a long-term impact in rasing the fighting spirit of the common Mohammad and Aisha  in using social media to air his grievance against the erring Comelec and politico."

She said they expect a "massive reduction and delisting of the fakes" through the biometrics system and the use of AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) matching.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman told MindaNews on Saturday that the registration is far from being a failure.

"Malayo naman sa failure. Napaka-minor ng mga incidents at yung ilang complaints. I urge those who witnessed irregularities to come out in the open. We are very much willing to assist and help them."

Mitmug said the registration is "not a total failure" as he pointed to several gains such as fewer multiple registrants and  that  "hakot" has been controlled. . "We cannot deny these  are still happening because there are reports but this reporting is a process of moving forward. What is important is to know the defects so these can be cured."

(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.

  • 15 wounded in 2 explosions in restive southern Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least 15 people have been wounded in two separate blasts that hit a police camp in a restive southern Philippine province where Muslim militants operate, police said Saturday. …

  • 15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp
    15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp

    Fifteen people including 10 police officers were wounded in an attack on a mosque at police camp on a remote Philippine island long plagued by Islamic militancy, officials said on Saturday. Successive blasts targeted the mosque inside Camp Kasim on the island of Jolo early evening Friday -- an initial grenade attack followed by a bomb explosion less than 10 minutes later that was intended to target police who rushed to the scene, local authorities said. "It seems the (first) explosion was set …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options