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Outsiders cutting into long queues at registration centers

By Babylyn Kano-Omar, VERA Files

BONGAO, Tawi-tawi—Reports of "flying" registrants in different barangays here are reaching the election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.

On Day 4 of the 10-day general registration, residents lining up to enlist complained that unknown people have been cutting through long lines of registrants waiting for their turns to fill up voters' application forms and have these processed by voters' registration machines (VRMs).

Bongao, capital of Tawi-tawi, the Philippines' southernmost province. Photo by AMIEL MARK CAGAYAN.

As a result, people in some barangays in Tawi-tawi have settled down for a long wait. The queues outside some of the registration centers have begun to look like picnics or camping trips, as residents brought with them stock of food.

In one case, a PPCRV coordinator noted that one registrant was accompanied by an assistor who did not even know the registrant's name, bolstering suspicion that outsiders were being brought in by certain groups.

The general registration of voters in the five provinces of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Tawi-tawi included, started July 9 and ends on July 18.

(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.")

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