Maguindanao village officials set system to complete 10-day voters’ registration

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews/14 July)—Officials are pushing for a more efficient registration process in the village with the highest number of voters here by setting different schedules of each zone to allow them to complete voters’ registration by July 18.

Tamontaka Barangay Captain Mohammad Yaser Sinsuat said officials have posted schedules for constituents based on their respective zones to ensure that the 10-day registration from July 9 to 18 is maximized.

Tamontaka had the most number of of registered voters in the province in 2010.  As of 2011, Commission on Election (Comelec) records show that Tamontaka had 4,578 registered voters spread out over seven zones.

Based on data from last elections, Datu Odin Sinsuat had the most number of registered voters among the 36 municipalities of Maguindanao at 44,115.

Maguindanao is one of the five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Its voters’ book was annulled by a Joint Resolution of Congress and Senate that was signed by President Benigno Aquino III because it was discovered that there are “hundreds of thousands of illegal and fictitious registrants in the ARMM which needs to be deleted.”

Two registration centers in two classrooms of the Broce Central School of Peace are currently processing the registration in Tamontaka.

Sinsuat said the barangay officials came up with a system to ensure that the general registration is completed within the 10 days set aside by the government.

He said that with the organized schedules, the days set for registration will be sufficient. Several ARMM officials have earlier asked Comelec for an extension but Commissioner Sixto Brillantes has denied the appeal.

Barangay Kagawad (village councilor) Brian Wampa said they conducted a house-to-house campaign to inform their respective zones of the scheduling system, aside from posting schedules.

To make sure that registrants do not become overcrowded, kagawads have also been monitoring the influx of registrants and have designated the barangay hall, about a kilometer from the registration centers, as waiting area, he said.

Lorena Madeja, acting election officer of Biliran province who is assigned to one of the registration centers, said the turnout of registration has been so far “okay.”

She said that since Monday, she has processed at least 200 registrations per day.

She said that while the barangay officials have prescribed schedules, registrants “come here depending on availability.”

There have been no “very young registrants” in the center, she said. Multiple registrants could not yet be determined at the moment but the Comelec “cental office will cross match finger prints,” she assured.

Madeja also said that they have prioritized the registration of senior citizens, pregnant women and persons with disability (PWD). To get to the registration centers located just beside each other, one must climb three steps and there is no ramp although the centers are at the ground floor.

No tally has been made of the PWDs who have registered so far, but 48-year-old Bobby Baraguir, who acquired his blindness when he had measles at the age of 10, said that he was prioritized.

While registration has been going well, Datu Odin Sinsuat election officer Raufden Mangelen, who visited the registration centers in the morning of the fifth day, had an outburst when he found out that there are no more available forms.
He said that although registration forms can be reproduced and can be downloaded online, the 4,000 forms provided for the barangay should be “allocated properly.”

Mangelen said he was expecting to run out of forms by next week.

Still, he said that aside from having the most number of voters, people of the town have a “peaceful way of living” and that untoward incidents do not occur. (Artha Kira Paredes/VERA Files)