PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines?Advocates of political reforms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have cranked up efforts to convince senators to postpone the August regional elections.
Salic Ibrahim, chair of the poll watchdog Citizens Coalition for Electoral Reforms in the ARMM (C-Care), said by phone on Thursday it would be best to institute reforms first before any electoral exercise was conducted in the region, which has gained notoriety as the country?s poll cheating capital.
?Answer first unresolved governance and justice issues before another exhaustive electoral exercise,? said Ibrahim, who also chairs the Reform ARMM Now (RAN), a coalition of 15 civil society groups.
He said ?substantive reforms? were needed to make autonomy work for the region?s four million people.
In a manifesto issued this week, RAN said the billions of pesos government will spend for the August elections is best ?spent for building schools and hospitals and pay unpaid remittances of teachers in ARMM.?
?It is of national interest to introduce reforms in ARMM, the poorest region in the country with lowest human development indicators. We believe that the true test of genuine autonomy and democracy is if its fruits are harvested by the greater majority of the Bangsamoro,? the RAN manifesto said.
?Unfortunately, it cannot be said of the present ARMM. Those who are reaping the harvest are the traditional politicians who are also ripping ARMM apart,? it added.
Ibrahim said that at its current state, the region?s electoral system is highly vulnerable to fraud and manipulation that had soiled the credibility of past poll results. Ryan D. Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao