CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY(MindaNews/7 July)– Gathered in two small hotels in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, a band of election officers is honing their skills on the biometrics machines that will be used in the registration of voters in Lanao del Sur on Monday.
“We have finished our training today and on Sunday, all our personnel and the machines will be deployed to Lanao del Sur,“ said Dulce Cuevas Banzon, Commission on Elections Region 10 assistant regional director.
Banzon said that 168 election officers were picked from Comelec offices in Region 10 to man the 84 biometrics machines or Voter Registration Machines they will bring into the province.
She said each machine will be manned by two Comelec officers.
“We expect each machine to register 1,000 voters a day on the first week,” Banzon said.
The Comelec, through Resolution 9443, is purging “hundreds of thousands of fictitious voters with the nullification of the voters’ list in Lanao del Sur and four other provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”
A few days after Comelec issued Resolution 9443, the Senate and the House of Representatives also annulled the voters’ list that contained more than 1.7 million voters.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brilliantes told reporters in Manila that the bloated voters’ list from the ARMM will be trimmed down by at least 300,000 when the scheduled re-registration starts on July 9 (today) to 18.
The vehicles containing the biometric machines and trained election officers that will motor to Lanao del Sur on Sunday will be escorted by soldiers backed by tanks and Air Force helicopters, said Colonel Daniel Lucero, chief of the Army 103rd Infantry Brigade.
“We will prevent any armed groups or civilians from interfering in this electoral process. That is our mandate,” Lucero said.
He said the Comelec had tasked the Armed Forces of the Philippines to enforce the 30-day gun ban throughout the ARMM.
Lucero said that security forces will include female army soldiers whose tasks are to conduct the frisking or body searches of Maranao women.
“The presence of female soldiers is our way of telling the Maranaos that we are sensitive to their culture. Our soldiers have already undergone two weeks of seminars on cultural sensitivity,” he said.
Lucero said the entire two-week re-registration of voters will be done in “open transparency to ensure that it would be credible.” (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)