C-CARE to field monitors in ARMM for barangay polls

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 October) –  The Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms (C-CARE) , the group that has been monitoring the conduct of the local, regional and national elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) since the ARMM elections in August 2005 will be fielding monitors in Monday’s election for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials.

Salic Ibrahim, C-CARE vice chair told MindaNews there will be fewer monitors, however, due to budgetary constraints.

Ibrahim, founding chair of the organization, said monitoring the village-level polls was not in the original mandate of C-CARE which focused only on national, local and regional elections within the five-province, one-city ARMM.

Since 2005, C-CARE has monitored elections in the region comprising Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Lanao del Sur and the city of Marawi but for the barangay and SK elections.

Monday’s election will be the first time they will monitor village-level polls, he said.

Ibrahim said the board of trustees agreed in a meeting a few weeks ago in Davao City to field monitors for Monday’s elections, with a budget of P300,000, courtesy of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES).

He said that with assistance of its partners, C-CARE spent close to P2 million pesos to monitor the synchronized national and local elections last May. Nearly 7,000 monitors were fielded then.

Ibrahim said there will be “no new shirts” for the volunteers who will do monitoring work. He said they expect around 4,000 to be deployed on Monday.

Earlier reports said bickering among its members and officers might prevent C-CARE from monitoring Monday’s polls, a claim apparently made by disgruntled former members who did not know a decision had been made by the Board of Trustees to monitor for the first time, the village-level elections.

Ibrahim acknowledged the organization went through an internal crisis, but said this had been addressed, its partners know what happened and the office has resumed normal operations. (MindaNews)