Comelec urged not to cluster precincts to keep warring clans from each otherBy Charlie C. Señase
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Led by Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, residents of Maguindanao have asked the Commission on Elections to forego the clustering of precincts in the province to prevent violence during the general registration of voters starting on Monday.
In a recent petition to the Comelec, the residents said that the clustering of some 110 precincts would bring together families with unresolved feuds or “rido” during the 10-day general registration.
Mangudadatu told reporters that the family feuds in at least nine towns where the 110 clustered precincts are located, “are so intense.”
He said de-clustering the precincts would effectively separate feuding families from each other.
Lawyer Udtog Tago, Maguindanao elections supervisor, described the petition as “valid and reasonable.” He said he supported it because “my concern, first and foremost, is public safety.”
“But the Comelec central office is the one deciding on these petitions and I expect this to be announced when Commissioner-in-charge Christian Robert Lim arrives here (Saturday),” he said.
Maguindanao police director Senior Supt. Marcelo Pintac said there are unresolved feuds in Maguindanao that could reignite any time.
He said the police have decided to deploy personnel during the registration period to ensure the safety of registrants and to prevent violence from taking place.
Pintac said the military was also helping in securing the process.
A similar general voter registration will also be conducted in other provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao starting Monday.
Ray Sumalipao, Comelec ARMM chief, said the re-registration was aimed at weeding out illegal registrants and ghost voters, who made the ARMM notorious for election fraud in the past.
During the general voter registration, Sumalipao said the Comelec will be fielding 1,046 machines that would capture the registrants’ biometric profiles, making it difficult for cheaters to join.
“This is meant to rid ARMM of the stigma of being the nation’s cheating capital,” he said.