Teachers’ group seeks police, military involvement as election inspectors

  • Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    Reuters
    Philippines calls on ASEAN to urge China to halt land reclamation

    The Philippines called on its Southeast Asian neighbours to unite in urging China to halt reclamation of land in the South China Sea, but the call failed to raise widespread support ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Its claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in filling in land in contested territory …

  • Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    Associated Press
    Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Philippines on Sunday urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take "de facto control" of the area. …

  • Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in …

    Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in …

    Reuters
    Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in …

    The Philippines on Sunday called on neighbouring Southeast Asian nations to push for an immediate halt to China's reclamation in the disputed South China Sea ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested …

  • Family, friends in Baltimore mourn death of arrested man

    Family, friends in Baltimore mourn death of arrested man

    Associated Press
    Family, friends in Baltimore mourn death of arrested man

    BALTIMORE (AP) — Mourners filed for hours Sunday past the coffin of the man who died after sustaining serious injuries in the custody of Baltimore police, somberly paying respects after a night of violent protests. …

  • HKMA sells HK$14.88 bln to keep Hong Kong dollar in trading band

    Reuters

    HONG KONG, April 27 (Reuters) - The Hong Kong MonetaryAuthority (HKMA) intervened in the currency market again late onFriday, selling a total HK$14.88 billion ($1.92 billion) in HongKong dollars as the local currency hit the strong end of itstrading range. The city's de-facto central bank, which has intervenedmultiple times in the market in the past fortnight, had soldHK$13.18 billion ($1.70 billion) earlier that day. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged at 7.8 to the U.S. dollar,but can trade …

By Artha Kira Paredes, VERA Files

Cotabato City— Social Studies teacher Abunawas Solaiman clearly remembers the 2004 elections because, he said, it was the only time he felt safe serving as a member of the Board of Election Inspectors.

He was then assigned at precinct 21-A in Barangay Katbo, Matanog in Maguindanao, serving alongside a policeman and a marine officer to man the precinct, the year the government allowed members of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army to serve in the BEIs.

Walang pumapasok na mga nananakot sa mga guro or doon sa mga bumuboto (No one came inside the voting precinct to intimidate teachers and voters),” recalled Solaiman, president of the Teachers Alliance for Change (TEACH).

Solaiman said many of his fellow teachers have had a close encounter with losing candidates who blame them for unfavorable results. As early as now, media in the region have reported that teachers are hesitant to serve in the elections for fear.

Solaiman told VERA Files after the Tapatan sa ARMM forum at the Office of the Regional Governor Conference Hall Wednesday that his group is recommending the 2004 set up, which he said resulted in the smooth flow of that election.

Such a setup would protect the teachers, Solaiman said. TEACH was organized so that teachers can collectively lobby for their rights.

Ironically, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won the election, the election year that police and army served as BEIs. The election was rife with reports of fraud, the most infamous among them the “Hello Garci” scandal where Arroyo was caught in a tapped phone conversation supposedly asking then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to make sure she won by 1 million votes.

The names of a number of generals were also mentioned in those taped conversations.

Maguindanao votes are said to have contributed to Arroyo’s win, and although there were plans to investigate the cheating there in 2004, nothing came of those plans.

Solaiman, 39, teaches at the Matanog National High School in Maguindanao and began serving in the elections in 1999, when he first started teaching. He acknowledges that Maguindanao played a big role in the Garci scandal and said that at that time members of the Ampatuan family "ay hari sa Maguindanao (kings of Maguindanao)."

He said teachers like him in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are especially prone to harassments during elections and likens safekeeping the ballots to “protecting a child from kidnappers.”

This responsibility, when it is not carried out, could mean that candidates can file an administrative case against them in court, he said.

ARMM is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sulu and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan. Most of the towns in the region are watchlist areas during elections because of the occurrence of election-related violent incidents. In the 2010 polls, a teacher and a school principal were killed after the conduct of the presidential elections.

The region has about 21,000 public school teachers, with more than 800 from Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur counting themselves as members of TEACH, an organization that was only registered under the Security and Exchange Commission last month but which was formed in 2011.

Under the Election Reforms Law of 1987, the BEI should be composed of a chairman and two members “all of whom shall be public school teachers, giving preference to those with permanent appointments.”

The law states that private school teachers, civil service employees or other citizens “of known probity and competence” and are registered employees of the city of municipality may be chosen for election duty should there be a shortage of public school teachers, the law states.

For the 2004 national elections, the Commission on Elections promulgated Resolution 6454 that deputized the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Interior and Local Government, the National Police Commission, the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies.

The deputization was to ensure “free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible conduct” of elections, which to Solaiman was achieved. He said the marine who served as poll clerk in his precinct easily spotted flying voters.

During elections in the ARMM there is a widespread hakot or the practice of politicians providing transportation for hundreds of individuals, some even underage, to vote for them in different precincts.

(ARMM WATCH is a project of VERA Files in partnership with MindaNews and I-Watch. It is supported by 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.

  • Pagasa: Drought may worsen
    Pagasa: Drought may worsen

    The drought in 12 already dry areas in the country is expected to worsen as the summer season peaks next month, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. In an advisory, PAGASA said the provinces of Albay, Bataan, Batangas, Biliran, Cavite, Cebu, Ilocos Norte, Leyte, Misamis Occidental, Pampanga, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur will continue to receive “way below” or “below normal” rainfall in May. PAGASA defines …

  • Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea
    Maximum restraint for Phl troops in West Phl Sea

    The military has advised its pilots conducting surveillance in the West Philippine Sea to exercise maximum restraint even if they are being bullied by Chinese troops. Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said all actions of the pilots should be consistent with the declaration of conduct signed by claimant countries. Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the Philippines should remain on moral high ground when it comes to the territorial dispute. A …

  • MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami
    MMDA simulates rescue march after quake, tsunami

    The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) yesterday led the annual rescue march from Quezon City to Manila, giving rescue volunteers a glimpse of possible scenarios if the metropolis is hit by a strong quake or is inundated by a tsunami. Cora Jimenez, MMDA general manager, said 700 volunteer rescuers walked from the Quezon City memorial circle to the Bonifacio monument in front of the Manila city hall to simulate a response-exercise to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Renato Solidum, …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options