MILF members register as voters in Maguindanao

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The Commission on Elections starts a two-day voters registration on Tuesday, 11 September 2018, inside Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao for members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Most of them are first-time registrants. MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews/ 12 September) – Combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and their families on Tuesday trooped to the satellite registration center of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here to enlist as voters.

Many of them were first-time registrants.

The satellite registration center here is one of the 15 such centers put up by the poll body for the 3-day special list-up in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.

A plebiscite scheduled on 21 January 2019 will determine which areas of the ARMM, six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato will be included in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Comelec officials manning the registration center were awed at the turn up of registrants.

Lawyer Udtog Tago, Maguindanao election supervisor, said the 3-day list-up is part of the poll body’s support to the government’s peace initiatives in southern Philippines.

He, however, noted that they are facing a huge challenge since most of the applicants could not produce birth certificates.

Tago said the Comelec is recognizing legitimate MILF-issued identification cards for registration purposes.

“We are doing this to show the commission’s commitment to help the government in the peace process,” he added.

For those who registered for the first time, participating in a government political process was a memorable one.

“I am excited. To my relatives please go out and register for this is now the time that we can participate in the electoral process,” Basir Amilo, an MILF combatant said.

“This registration is important so we can vote yes for the Bangsamoro government,” Udtadz Salahuddin Salabi, commander the MILF 105th base command said.

Sammy Al Mansoor, MILF chief of staff, was one of the top MILF officials who showed up on the first day of registration.

Like the poll officials, Al Mansoor was also amazed at the turnout of registrants. The combatants brought with them their wives and children.

“As if in real battle, this is now the last battle of our combatants which is political and legal in nature so they need to come out and register,” he said.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim was scheduled to register for the first time on Tuesday so he can participate in the plebiscite and succeeding elections. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)

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