Teachers’ group seeks police, military involvement as election inspectors

  • Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    Associated Press
    Image of Asia: Tearing down squatters' homes near Manila

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a demolition crew begins to tear down a squatters' community at suburban Caloocan city, north of Manila, Philippines. Population growth and the lack of economic opportunities in rural areas have driven millions of Filipinos into the squatters' colonies that dot the sprawling metropolitan area in and around Manila. Most of the land they occupy is privately owned, and clearing the dwellings often results in violence. The landowner had offered about $1,344 in …

  • Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    AFP News
    Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Chinese warnings over the airspace, President Benigno Aquino said on Monday. "We will still fly the routes that we fly based on the international law from the various conventions we entered into," Aquino told reporters when asked whether the Philippines accepted China's position. The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane away from airspace …

  • Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dis …

    Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dis …

    Reuters
    Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dis …

    The Philippines is seeking a "stronger commitment" from the United States to help its ally, the defence minister said on Monday, as China asserts its sovereignty over disputed areas of the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew …

  • Pacific Gas & Electric Co. president announces retirement

    Associated Press

    The man who led Pacific Gas & Electric Company through a deadly 2010 pipeline explosion in the San Francisco area is retiring at the end of the year. PG&E announced the retirement of Christopher P. Johns ... …

  • 4 Taliban militants die in attack in Afghan capital

    4 Taliban militants die in attack in Afghan capital

    Associated Press
    4 Taliban militants die in attack in Afghan capital

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An all-night siege in an upscale neighborhood of Afghanistan's capital ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning with the deaths of four heavily armed Taliban attackers, though no civilians or security personnel were injured or killed, an Afghan official said. …

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.

  • Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute
    Phl, US defense chiefs to meet on sea dispute

    As US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Regan began its journey to Asian waters amid China’s power flexing in the region, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin would try to hear directly from his US counterpart how far America is willing to go to aid its long-time ally against China’s threatening moves in disputed waters. Gazmin flew to Hawaii last Monday to attend ceremonies for the turnover of leadership of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) from Admiral Samuel Locklear to Admiral Harry …

  • Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level
    Water in Angat Dam falls below critical level

    The water level of Angat Dam in Bulacan yesterday fell below the 180-meter critical level for irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. PAGASA said the dam’s water level further dropped to 179.98 meters as of 6 a.m. yesterday from 180.2 meters on Monday. The priority is the domestic consumption in Metro Manila, according to PAGASA. …

  • PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid
    PCSO gets P3-B fund for medical aid

    The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) reported yesterday that an estimated P3-billion charity fund has been allocated by Congress to the agency to provide medical assistance to indigent patients and also give funds to other government offices including the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Crop Insurance Program. …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options