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.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. In a brief despatch, North Korea's official KCNA news …

  • 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 …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • 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 …

  • 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. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options