Maradeca May 2010

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This is the second publication of Maradeca Inc. in 2010

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<p>Official Publication of Maranao People Development Center, Inc. Vol. 5 No. 4 March - May 2010</p> <p>Old-style violence in Lanao Sur despite automated pollsThe automated election system failed to bring change to Lanao del Sur traditional warlord and goon country of Mindanao where violence and a low voter turnout marked the May 10 elections, as they did in the past. The police, military and election stakeholders reported incidents of killings, explosions, abductions and gunfights between opposing camps in this province, which has traditionally been the backdrop of the worst cases of dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving), when counting was done manually. But voters in seven towns did not get a taste of the new automated system because teachers failed to show up for election duty as members of the Boards of Election Inspectors amid the climate of fear. A failure of elections was declared in the towns of Masiu, Lumba Bayabao, Lumba Caunayan, Bayang, Tuburan, Sultan Marogong, and Lumbatan because there were no teachers, and in Ganassi where there were no ballots. The various incidents indicate that nothing has changed in Lanao del Sur. The violence, which ranges from verbal abuse to shooting that has been a regular feature of elections in Lanao del Sur and the Autonomous Region in Musim Mindanao (ARMM), even worsened in 2010. It is no coincidence that the province has been a major arena for the production of fraudulent poll results especially in the national vote. It was featured in the Hello, Garci scandal, the massive vote-rigging in the 2004 election, with conversations between President Gloria Arroyo and then election commission Virgilio Garcillano recorded on tape. On election day, two people, a 12-year-old boy and the other a 19year-old girl. were hit by stray M-79 bullets while they were inside a polling precinct at the Tugaya Central Elementary School in Tugaya town. The girl, Aslia Panda, was declared dead at the Amai Pakpak Provincial Hospital at 4 p.m on election day. Salic Ibrahim, head of Citizens Coalition for ARMM Responsible Election (Citizens CARE), said there were no casualties from the bombings, which he said were done by men who are probably out to harass voters and disrupt the conduct of the elections. Lanao del Sur got a preview of the intensity of the violence as early as October last year, when a bomb exploded at a voter registration center in Marawi City, killing three people and wounding 20 others. Sources said many of those trying to enlist were would-be flying voters from Lanao del Norte intending to secure registration as Lanao del Sur voters. Each person was reportedly paid P100 as down payment for a promised P1,000, with free food and travel expenses, a big sum for people living in one of the poorest regions of the country. Indeed, previous researches by Mindanews indicate that fraud and violence in Lanao del Sur usually begin during the registration period when politicians and political operators maneuver to pad the official roll of voters with names of flying voters. These flying voters are usually either non-residents or minors, or voters already registered in other precincts or localities in Lanao del Sur. In 2007, most of the flying voters came from Iligan City, and nearby Misamis Oriental towns while some were from Ozamiz Citya mix of Maranaos and non-Maranaoshauled into the precincts in jampacked trucks. This election is no different. Lanao del Sur governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. disclosed that his camp estimated the provinces number of registered voters to be padded by more than 150,000.Total registered voters in Lanao del Sur for the May 10 polls, as of March 17, 2009, was 459,012. A Mindanews research after the 2007 election showed that the number of registered in Lanao del Sur had shot up to 396,913 that year, from the 275,720 three years before, an increase that was statistically impossible. continue to page 3</p> <p>Violence, low voter turnout, mark polls in Lanao provinces</p> <p>Violence, vote-buying mar special polls in Lanao Sur</p> <p>2</p> <p>Two persons lining up to vote at the Tugaya Central Elementary School ended up dead while another was wounded when a man identified as Albert Balindong strafed them at around 10:45 a.m., Major Ferdinand Cacas, head of the Philippine Armys103rd Brigade Election Monitoring and Action Center, said. Cacas added that the attack was apparently intended to disrupt the balloting process. Voting in the area was immediately stopped but it proceeded as scheduled in other precincts. Authorities have yet to identify the victims. Improvised bombs exploded near the gymnasium of the Mindanao State University campus in Marawi City. Another explosion happened when a black Isuzu highlander blew up near an elementary school where people were voting and another improvised bomb exploded at an unpopulated corner in Barangay Saduc. No one was injured, according to reports from the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reform (Citizens CARE). Salic Ibrahim, head of Citizens CARE said no person was wounded in the bombing incidents done by men who are probably out to harass voters and disrupt the conduct of the elections. Ibrahim said there were also mauling incidents in a number of precincts in Marawi. In Calanogas town, barangay chairs exchanged fire, hitting one civilian in a crossfire while armed supporters of mayoral candidates at Kapai town ended in an armed confrontation wounding one civilian at about 10 a.m. today, he said. Citizens CARE also recorded five towns that have not conducted elections: Tamparan, Masiu, Lumbatan, Tubaran, Sultan Domalondong and Bayang. Tubarans PCOS machines were not yet transported to their town and are still kept by Comelec in Marawi city. Others have absence of board of election inspectors, Ibrahim said. Suganob said Comelec officials in those towns have declared that no voting was held there. Suganob, who was at the Election Monitoring Center at 103rd Infantry Brigade, also reported that armed confrontations also happened in Tugaya town because of disagreements among candidates and municipal Comelec officials. He said voting stopped in Lumbayanagu, too, due to violence. Suganob added that there are barangays in Balindong and BacolodKalawi towns that stopped voting. Mahid Sakar, also of Citizens CARE, reported that two barangays in Buadiposo Buntong town held manual elections because their PCOS machines malfunctioned. Sakar reported that some barangay officials in the town went inside the precincts and called on the electorate to vote instead of BEIs doing it. Even soldiers failed to control them. Ibrahim said that election failed to start early while a number of PCOS machines malfunctioned. He also said that Maranao voters arent using priority numbers; they used the continue to page 5</p> <p>Reports of fraud and violence marked the special elections held in Lanao del Sur Thursday as vote-buying proliferated, with the price pegged at anywhere from P10,000 to 15,000 per family. This was the report made by the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reform (Citizens CARE), an election watchdog in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which monitored the conduct of special election in the Lanao areas. Citizens CARE also said the indiscriminate firing of guns left a nineyear-old girl in critical condition. Special elections were conducted in190 clustered precincts in seven towns in Lanao del Sur, based on Comelec Resolution 8965. The resolution covered the towns of Sultan Dumalundong, Lumba Bayabao, Masiu, Tubaran, Lumbaca Unayan, Marogong and Bayang which had a total of 71,578 voters. The elections in these towns remained hotly contested because the results will determine who will win the congressional seat in the provinces second district, as well as local officials. A nine-year-old girl watching from her window got hit by a stray bullet in her left shoulder, as witnesses reported people firing guns. Although police and military manned the precincts, still the tension was high with indiscriminate firing in some towns that threaten voters, said Salic Ibrahim, executive director of Maradeca Inc. and head of Citizen CARE. Based on Citizens Cares documentation, the shooting was done by support groups of politicians in Sultan Domalondong and in Masiu towns. Citizens CARE coordinated with Legal Network for Truthful Election (Lente) in monitoring election related violence and documented cases relating to election fraud and irregularities. Citizens Care had about 241 volunteers helping monitor the special election. It was still different if trained Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) managed the election because the military and policemen lacked expertise in handling the election process, like there were those who did not put indelible ink to those who have voted, Ibrahim said. He also said watchdogs experienced marginalization in precinct centers as volunteers were not immediately recognized by soldiers assigned, although the problem was remedied by dialogues. Ibrahim also revealed that vote buying was rampant with offers going up to P15,000 per family the night before the scheduled poll. He also reported that there were supporters of national officials, contesting for elective posts still, who gave P100 or P50 per voter. We also observed those who are actively doing smear campaign against presidential candidate Mar Roxas because of his position against Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), he said. Jhoe Musor, communication officer of Maradeca Inc., described the special election as still considered generally peaceful despite some election cases haunting its conduct. In Marogong town, Comelec officials with police and military decided that only two watchers were allowed to enter inside the polling continue to page 5</p> <p>Statement</p> <p>ELECTION CONCERNS REMAIN IN THE ARMM, DESPITE AUTOMATION</p> <p>Old-style violence...</p> <p>Citizens CARE, the COMELEC accredited poll watcher in the ARMM, deployed 6750 volunteers every single of the ARMMs 3377 clustered precincts. This followed a three months period of facilitating local community consultations and 2552 voter education sessions in the entire regions barangays. Citizens CARE observers noted a substantial decrease of violence after the initial flare during the November massacre, as well as notable speed increases in the counting and transmission of results, which decreased opportunities for election day fraud. However, the established complex of election fraud unfortunately remains intact and beyond the reach of automation. Citizens CARE monitors noted specifically; Vote buying: Observers noted that vote buying remained not only as rampant but was actually more visible. In Tawi-Tawi, candidate representatives went house to house soliciting voes in exchange for payment; Threats leading to isolated failure of elections: in 7 towns of Lanao del Sur, COMELEC declared a failure of elections due to the fact that BEI members did not show up due to intimidation by local political candidates; Slow Transmission: canvassing and transmission speed in the ARMM remained significantly under the national average, due to the peace and order situation, as well as connectivity challenges. In all 5 provinces, power outages led to a delay in opening, voting and transmission. In Maguindanao, 37 municipalities had challenges receicing data from precincts, leading to a delay of proclamation of congressional candidates by 48 hours. As of today, 4 towns remain uncanvassed. These delays exposed the system to external risks; Non-use of PCOS machines: Several areas (Bacolod, 8 municipalities in Lanao del Sur) in the ARMM refused to utilize PCOS machines at the precincts after problems were discovered during the testing and sealing. In Barimbingan, Ditsaan Ramain, one PCOS machine was burned. In Paraitan, the PCOS was not deployed due to threats from a local official to shoot it; Secrecy of the ballot: as in the rest of the country, there was widespread joint voting, and ballot secrecy folders were largely absent; Ballot fraud: in various locations, observers noted BEI members and voters filling out several ballots. In Kapatagan, one voter received two ballots and was filling them out in the immediate vicinity of watchers. Another repeatedly filled out ballots and fed them into the PCOS. Violence: Conduct of the voting was generally peaceful with isolated incidents in Northern Kabuntalan (Brgy. Kapimpilan), where supports of opposing candidates engaged in a firefight that resulted in 2 deaths. In Datu Salibo, Datu Unsay, Paglat, and SK Pendatun municipalities in Maguindanao, unidentified groups lobbed mortar shells at the vicinity of precincts. In Mangal, Sumisip, election materials and official ballopts were forcibly taken by a private army group. One PCOS machine was destroyed in Barira, maguondanao. Salic Ibrahim, Chairman of Citizens CARE stated: Automating the elections has brought significant improvements to the speed of counting the votes. Unfortunately, these improvements were not sufficient to break the established system of command votes, in which political leaders dictate peoples choices, and continues to thwart the true exercise of the right of suffrage. Citizens CARE will start working immediate with COMELEC and other relevant authorities to improve the situation ahead of the 2011 ARMM elections. Information on Citizens CARE Citizens CARE is the leading election monitoring and reform group in the ARMM and was founded in June 2005. For the last elections, it was mandated by COMELEC to conduct poll watching in various precincts including assistance to voters in the 2010 National and Local Elections in the ARMM. CCARE deployed 6750 volunteers covering 2552 barangays in 118 municipalities including 4 Cities of Marawi, Cotabato, Lamitan and Isabela throughout the ARMM region in its 5 provinces and 4 cities. In the pursuit of its mandate, Citizens CARE established partnerships with thirty six (36) non government organizations, civil society organizations, peoples organizations and academe, civic groups, media and communication groups who participated in monitoring the whole electoral process. </p> <p>Election day is when the numbers turn into actual votes, and opposing camps guard each others voter base, herding supporters from their homes towards precincts and back. The cooperation of precinct-level poll officials or the board of election inspectors (BEIs) is a key element in having flying voters or multiple registrants operate. This includes not marking with indelible ink the left point-finger of a person who just voted, or if at all, a non-indelible ink is used; or more brazenly, simply allowing those who are known to have voted, to vote as many times as they would like to. For journalists who have long covered Lanao del Sur elections, one lingering image of this trick is that of a boy in his early teens in 2001 who emerged from a precinct and bragged about having voted 10 times in several nearby precincts as sho...</p>