In Lanao del Sur, generators deployed for voters’ registration

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/08July) — Election officer Tommy Macadingdang sat on the boxes containing generating sets at the motor pool of the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol Sunday, waiting for transportation.

STANDBY POWER. Police officers load a generating set to their car for deployment in barangays in Lanao del Sur that have no electricity, on July 8, 2012. MindaNews photo by Froilan GallardoIt has been hours since he started waiting but Macadingdang was not worried. He was optimistic that transportation will arrive in time for the generators to be delivered to Molundo town in Lanao del Sur.

“There is still time. The generators will arrive in time for the registration tomorrow,” Macadingdang said.

Hundreds of registration centers across Lanao del Sur and four provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will open for the registration of voters starting at 7 a.m. Monday, July 9. Regilstration will run until July 18.

The Comelec has deployed hundreds of generating sets to far-flung barangays in the ARMM which has no access to electricity.

Aside from transportation woes, the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms (Citizens Care) is concerned over the lack of Voters Registration Machines or biometrics machines in Lanao del Sur.

Safia Dimatingcal, vice chair of the Lanao del Sur chapter of  Citizens Care said there are only 245 biometric machines to serve 309 registration centers in Lanao del Sur.

She said the Comelec has resorted to clustering the precincts to ensure residents can register.

Dimatingcal said the clustering of precincts may discourage voters from registering.

“If a registration center is too remote, the prospective registrants may be discouraged to come out or the situation will be exploited by interest groups like politicians who might provide vehicles,” she said.

Col. Daniel Lucero, chief of the Army 103rd Infantry Brigade  allayed fears residents would be apprehended if they ride vehicles provided by politicians. He said they will not violate the residents’ right to travel. “But when they register it will be another matter. They should be able to present two government-issued identification cards to prove they are legitimate voters,” he said.

“Otherwise, we will arrest them inside the registration centers,” he added.

He said cedulas or residence certificates are not honored since they do not contain identification photos.

He said biometric machines have already been delivered to the 20 towns in the second congressional district of Lanao del Sur. He said the rest of the machines will be deployed just before registration begins on Monday.

Atty. Anwar Malang , ARMM executive secretary said they are pinning their hopes on the re-registration to rid the bad image that ARMM is the “cheating capital  of the Philippine elections.”

“It is high time that we rid of that image. We want a transformation,” Malang said.

An information campaign has been launched in Marawi  City aimed at urging residents to come out and register.

“One person, one register, one vote,”  was the message of  a streamer inside the Lanao del Sur provincial gym in Marawi City. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)