ARMM set for special polls

By Queenie Casimiro, ABS CBN News Zamboanga

Posted at Feb 25 2011 12:21 AM | Updated as of Feb 25 2011 07:10 PM

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – It’s all systems go for the special elections in selected areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) next month.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials conferred with police and military officials in Zamboanga City on Thursday to discuss the security details for the special polls on March 12.

Failure of elections was declared in the villages of Lower Cabengbeng in Sumisip Basilan, Barangay Bunot in Indanan, Sulu and Sapa-Sapa in Tawi-Tawi after members of the Board of Election Tellers (BETs) did not report to their polling centers last May 10, 2010 for fear of their security.

Lawyer Rey Sumalipao, regional director of Comelec in ARMM, said they will use police officers to serve as BETs and members of the Board of Canvassers to ensure that no such intimidation or threats will affect the electoral process.

Top police and military officials present in the Regional Coordinating Conference also assured the security of the polling centers, voters, and the election paraphernalia.

The election paraphernalia will be delivered on March 19. "Since this is ARMM, we should still be expecting some problems." Sumalipao said.

The Comelec, meanwhile, reminded residents of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi that prohibitions such as a gun ban is still being enforced.