This information, according to an electoral watchdog in the island, had empowered the people of Tawi-tawi.
Voters’ education was one of the programs of the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Reforms (C-CARE), a group operating in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), designed to raise awareness of the voters as regards their rights and duties.
Before the holding of the local elections, the C-CARE, together with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), police and military officials in the area, held a series of “Ugnayan Tayo” and “Pulong Tayo,” both community-based focus group discussions and consultations on electoral issues.
C-CARE chair Romy Guialel said that through consultations and meetings, a paradigm shift as far as voters’ attitudes are concerned was bound to happen.
“Through these, change would be introduced in the electoral system in the ARMM, thus bringing hope to Tawi-tawi. When people are empowered, change will take place,” said Guialel.
Even Tawi-tawi’s acting provincial election officer, Abu Talipan has recognized C-CARE’s efforts in introducing electoral reforms to the people through voters’ education.
Because of these, a number of voters from Tawi-tawi joined C-CARE in monitoring the conduct of the May 14 elections.
“Without voters’ education, the mindset of the people on vote buying could never be changed because, for them, election is the only time they could enjoy the money of the government,” Guialel said.
One of the audiences the C-CARE targeted for the series of focus group discussion were the youth, which they considered as “very idealist,” as they can “become catalysts of change.”
The C-CARE is given technical support by the International Foundation for Election System (IFES), through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the project “Strengthening Electoral Process through Voter’s Education and Election Monitoring in the ARMM.” (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)