EDITORIAL: CLEANING UP MINDANAO VOTER'S LIST
MANILA, JULY 21, 2012 (PHILSTAR) Malacañang announced that the recent voters’ registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was a success. The re-registration resulted in the purge of 600,000 names from the list, leaving 1.2 million voters in the ARMM. That’s a lot of names delisted – enough to provide swing votes in a tightly contested race.
The purge is just one phase in cleaning up the voting process in a region that has become notorious for poll rigging scandals in recent years.
The Commission on Elections must ensure that its officials in charge of the ARMM will not become embroiled in poll fraud scandals like Virgilio Garcillano and Lintang Bedol.
Public school teachers assigned to poll duties next year must be fully briefed on what to look out for in ensuring clean elections.
The ARMM is also a hot spot for election violence.
Apart from the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao arising from a clan feud over political control, many other cases of election violence have been reported in every electoral exercise in the region.
Security officials must coordinate with the Comelec to improve the enforcement of gun laws especially during the election period.
The region is bristling with guns, with many of the weapons government-issued. Military and police officials must see to it that their personnel are not used as private armies of any candidate in the ARMM, regardless of political affiliation.
The ARMM is one of the least developed and most impoverished regions in the country.
Lifting its people from poverty will depend a great deal on the quality of local governance and leadership. Voters in the ARMM must be assisted in making informed choices when they pick their political leaders in 2013.
Cleaning up the voters’ list is a good start, but much work remains to be done to ensure a free, honest and orderly vote in the ARMM.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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