Old-style violence in Lanao Sur despite automated polls

by Ryan Rosauro, Violeta M. Gloria, and Jules Benitez
Mindanews and VERA Files

MARAWI CITY (12 May) — The automated election system failed to bring change to Lanao del Sur traditional warlord and goon country of Mindanao where violence and a low voter turnout marked the May 10 elections, as they did in the past.

The police, military and election watchdog groups reported incidents of killings, explosions, abductions and gunfights between opposing camps in this province, which has traditionally been the backdrop of the worst cases of dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving), when counting was done manually.

But voters in seven towns did not get a taste of the new automated system because teachers failed to show up for election duty as members of the Boards of Election Inspectors amid the climate of fear.

A failure of elections was declared in the towns of Masiu, Lumba Bayabao, Lumba Caunayan, Bayang, Tuburan, Sultan Marogong, and Lumbatan because there were no teachers, and in Ganassi where there were no ballots.

The various incidents indicate that nothing has changed in Lanao del Sur. The violence, which ranges from verbal abuse to shooting that has been a regular feature of elections in Lanao del Sur and the Autonomous Region in Musim Mindanao (ARMM), even worsened in 2010.