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HEALING DEMOCRACY Statement on August 2011 ARMM Election

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HEALING DEMOCRACY, a Lanao del Sur based electoral watchdog, denounces the repeated desecration of democracy in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections.

Just recently, Congress continuously undermines the democracy of the Bangsamoro people by its intention to postpone the August 8, 2011 regional (ARMM) elections without the consent of the stakeholders.

Such election is already fixed by   RA 9054 ratified through a plebiscite in the residents of ARMM. As always, Congress is distorting ratified laws. There has only been a single instance where the election in ARMM was conducted in a timely manner, on the date specified by law, due to congressional manipulations. 

What Congress should be discussing is not how to derail the electoral process but how to ensure clean and credible elections reflecting the will of the Bangsamoro people.

Among the many clamors highly echoed in many discussion groups in Mindanao today is the problem plaguing ARMM characterized by its lack of autonomy as evidenced by the contentions discussed above and by the series of elected officials handpicked by Malacañang. For the national government to continue manipulating the legal-political process of ARMM elections is to aggravate this problem.

Healing Democracy, too, is outraged by COMELEC’s decision to continue using the Precinct-Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the coming ARMM elections, particularly in Lanao del Sur.

Based on the May 10, 2010 election, including the special one in June 3, the use of PCOS machines has defeated its purpose in protecting the rights of the people and further aggravated it. Delayed election procedures and technical glitches, transmission failures, as well as incidents of fraud and violence were just few of the election related

fraud and violence with the use of automated election that Healing Democracy had documented.

The fundamental democratic principle of “private voting and public counting”, too, is subordinated by the machine’s task of covert counting. Many Maranaos interviewed by Healing Democracy documenters-monitors expressed doubts of PCOS doing the job of counting as it is done beyond the scrutiny of the voters, including the watchers.

Adding insult to injury, many precincts in Lanao del Sur did not use the designated PCOS in counting because the ballots were actually ship to a centralized counting/canvassing hall in Provincial Capitol at

Marawi city. The repeated reason of COMECLEC  for  doing so is “security considerations”.

The most awkward mandate constantly designed by COMELEC  in Lanao del Sur,  is the replacement of school teachers by police trainees   as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs)  and canvassers inside polling centers, while outside are  armed private armies and Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO) elements  who are mostly under the command of incumbent public officials.

Further, HEALING DEMOCRACY strongly demands to the Congress as well as to the COMELEC to heed us for once. With the 76 paged 2010 election monitoring and documentation report, the TESTING DEMOCRACY: The 2010 Automated Election in Lanao del Sur, we still stand with our recommendations to the COMELEC and congress to seriously enforce measures in ensuring clean, fair, credible and transparent election while upholding the Bangsamoro people’s right to suffrage. We also challenged the  Comelec to make a total reform on the electoral process in connection with  the  glitches and  weaknesses  of the AES,

Smartmatic  non-compliance with  major contract provisions, ineptitude in administering the elections that result  in the chronic failure  of elections in Lanao  del Sur and some provinces of the country. Finally, we also call the people especially our Bangsamoro brethren to be more vigilant this upcoming ARMM election and help deter any attempt to desecrate democracy by way of fraud and violence.

HEALING DEMOCRACY is a Maranao grassroots project that seeks to organize and educate the Lanao del Sur electorate, and monitor the conduct of the May 2010 National Elections in the Province. It enjoys support of interfaith communities from various parts of Mindanao.

Spearheaded by Consortium of Christian Organizations for Rural-Urban Development (CONCORD), Inc, HEALING DEMOCRACY partners include Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) Lanao; Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM); Ethnic Groups Development Resource Center (EGDRC);  Rural Missionaries of the Philippines; Community-Based Health Services (CBHS) Northern Mindanao; Suara Bangsamoro Northern Mindanao; Kawagib Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Rights; Samahan ng mga Lingkod na Artista sa Mindanao (SALAMIN); and Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) Lanao.
HEALING DEMOCRACY: Unleashing Interfaith Initiatives towards the Promotion of Democratic Electoral Process in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines is a European-funded project under the program European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) Philippines.

(For reference: Rev. Beltran E. Pacatang, Project Manager, HEALING DEMOCRACY Project Mobile Number: 09291051879 Landline Number: (063) 223-5179)




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