Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Poll watchdog prepares for ARMM polls

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines – The Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, Inc. (Citizens CARE), one of the accredited poll watchdogs in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), is already preparing for a complete monitoring of the ARMM elections on August 11.

Salic Ibrahim, Citizens CARE chair, said they intend to closely watch the conduct of the political exercise which will showcase the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) poll automation.

To date, the Citizens CARE has more than 1,500 village election ‘gurus’ all over the region. Also, they recruited 93 volunteer municipal election ‘gurus’ to act as election monitoring officers in each municipality.

The Citizens CARE has also 30 partner-organizations in the region, Ibrahim said. It is also the lead convener in the newly-established Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) for the ARMM polls.

Other participating groups include the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, Legal Network for Truthful Election, Bangsamoro Lawyers Network, Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum, and Federation of United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

"We intend to place poll volunteers in every precinct in each village all over ARMM. This is to make sure the ARMM elections would be monitored or closely watched by us," Ibrahim said.

Since June this year, poll volunteers have undergone series of training on poll automation and voters’ education and conducted a number of mock elections.

Ibrahim said their hopes of a fraud-free ARMM polls remains high since poll automation can reduce irregularities, especially in ARMM areas where cases of electoral fraud are high.

In Maguindanao, a direct recording electronic (DRE) will be installed by The Smartmatic-Sahi Technologies, Inc.

In the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Shariff Kabunsuan, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, an optical mark reader (OMR) technology will be provided by the Avanti International Technologies Inc.

The DRE system uses touch-screen or touch-pad technology and is fully automated. The OMR technology requires voters to fill out a paper ballot which will be scanned by specially designed machines

A total of 1.61 million registered voters will flock to about 10,805 precincts in 113 towns and two cities or 2,470 villages all over the region.

The C-CARE is set to monitor elections in 93 towns and 2 cities and 1,565 villages in August.

Ibrahim said the group will also create provincial election task groups that will coordinate on action points and key strategies in guarding the polls.

"Civil society and watchdog groups should have the muscle to guard the elections. We have to work together and get the numbers needed to completely monitor the elections," he said.

The C-CARE, organized in 2005, is the only civil society organization in ARMM that has devoted its efforts in electoral reforms. Since then, it has taken the initiatives in mobilizing the electoral reform advocates in the region.

The group receives technical assistance from the International Foundation of Electoral System (IFES) and funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). - (Malu Cadeliña Manar, GMANews.TV)

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