Int’l observers to monitor polls in Compostela Valley, ARMM

A town in Compostela Valley has been placed under Commission on Elections control and the military has sent some 1,400 troops, its biggest deployment in Southeastern Mindanao for peacekeeping job during the elections.

The People's Action Network Against Electoral Fraud and Violence (People’s Net), the local host, said in a press statement the group will dialogue with local partners and listen to a presentation on Mindanao's electoral and human rights situation.

In the six-province, one-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), in collaboration with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and its partner Moro civil society organizations in the region has deployed 21 international observers from six Asian countries with a significant Muslim population, to monitor the May 14 elections there. The observers are from civil society organizations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Aside from Compostela Valley, People’s Net’s monitors plan to visit Lanao del Sur in the ARMM and six other regions where harassment of voters has reportedly intensified and fraud is highly probable.

Compostela Valley was chosen because of its history of election-related violence and massive militarization, said Kelly Delgado, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan, one of the members of People's Net.

The delegation is part of 30 observers from 13 countries who arrived this week to join an election observer mission from the international community.

The group includes members of the academe and church workers, including two Koreans, Australians, and British nationals.

Delgado said the observers will visit polling centers and is expected to submit a report on the local situation a day after and a nationwide report on May 15.

Monkayo town in Compostela Valley has been declared by the Comelec under its
control in an en banc decision on May 8. Police said five people have been killed and two wounded in the province in incidents believed to be election-related.

According to the latest statistical data from the Commission on Elections regional office, Compostela Valley has 317,369 registered voters. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)