MANILA, Philippines – The general voters’ registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) begins today, in an effort by the Commision on Elections (Comelec) to cleanse the region’s bloated list of voters.
Security has been tightened in the region, with some 10,000 police and military personnel deployed in election hotspots.
The automated registration will run from July 9 until July 18.
Around 500 election officers were assigned to work for the re-listing of the voters in the region, which currently stands at around 1.8 million, according to Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Chairman Henrietta de Villa.
The list is believed to be fraught with voters who are underaged, registered in multiple areas, or already dead.
De Villa expects the number to go down. She also encouraged residents to go out and register.
“Iyung made-delete madami, kapag iisa-isahin ang nakalista madaming mabubura.” de Villa told ANC’s Headstart.
“Ito na ‘yung pag-asa para mabago ang sitwasyon ng ARMM… magkaisa na tayo, magkaroon kayo ng lakas ng loob at sige magpalista na kayo, huwag na kayong magpa-kontrol,” she added.
The Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, meanwhile, identified 82 barangays in Maguindnao considered as areas of immediate concern due to the presence of intense political rivalry and partisan armed groups.
These include barangays in the towns of Buldon, Barira, Parang, Pandag, Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, Shariff Aguak and Rajah Buayan.
PPCRV coordinator mauled
A day before the the general voters’ registration began, a PPCRV coordinator was allegedly mauled by supporters of a political clan in Maguindanao.
An initial investigation said the victim, identified as Sahara Camarudin, was allegedly attacked by seven women in the town of Buldon.
Camarudin reportedly refused to accept the women as PPCRV volunteers because of their ties with a political clan in Buldon.
Camarudin sustained minor injuries, and is now back to work as the general registration begins today.
“Around 2 p.m. nasa opisina kami ng bigla [silang] sumugod, yung iba sa kanila ay nagtatrabaho sa DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” Camarudin said.
“Taas noo akong magtatrabaho bukas (Monday). Hindi po ako natatakot [sa ano mang] mangyayari. Gagawin ko po ang trabahong nakapatong sa balikat ko,” she added.
De Villa condemned the act and said she has advised Camarudin to seek the assistance of the police.
De Villa said it was natural for PPCRV coordinators and volunteers to reject people connected with political clans seeking to join the registration activities.
“May grupo sa Barira at Buldon, may mga clan na kanilang mga volunteers, gusto nilang pilitin na ipasok sa PPCRV kasi kami ang may registration to be citizens’ arm here. Siyempre ‘di pumapayag ang mga coordiantor namin doon dahil partisan sila,” she said.
The PPCRV has yet to decide whether or not to press charges against the women. – with a report from Jasper Acosta, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao