Students ‘forced’ to register using fictitious names
MARAWI CITY—In an apparent act of desperation, politicians have resorted to coercing students to register with the city’s Commission on Elections as voters.
On July 11, a certain Ali Macapaar ordered some 30 non-Maranao students of Mindanao State University (MSU) to assume fictitious Maranao names and register as voters of Marawi City.
According to the students, Macapaar threatened to evict them from his boarding house if they refused to heed.
Colonel Daniel Lucero, commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade, said many tenants in other boarding houses inside the campus also experienced similar forms of intimidation.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman said he had directed the police and military to help the local officials provide security to the students. He said charges would be filed against those involved in the coercion.
For Samira Ali-Gutoc, women representative in the Regional Legislative Assembly of the ARMM, these incidents reflect the last attempts by “unscrupulous politicos” to fight off reforms in the region’s electoral system.
She said the reforms “would render irrelevant the traditional techniques of poll manipulation they know” especially with the use of biometrics data capture machines in the voter list-up.
Elections in Lanao del Sur are normally marred by the use of ghost and multiple voters. For ghost voters, non-Maranao residents usually stand in to cast the ballots.
These techniques are blamed for the big rise in the province’s voting population. From less than 300,000 after the 2003 general registration, the number of Lanao del Sur voters climbed to over 515,000 in the 2010 polls, an annual increase of close to 31,000 voters.
The general registration in the ARMM is premised on the need to determine the real figure of voting population.
“We believe we have prevented the massive influx of flying registrants into the province,” said Lucero. He explained that at the Army checkpoint in Saguiaran town, vehicles were stopped and the passengers reminded that those who intended to register in the province but were not qualified would have a run-in with the law.
Lucero added that in Tubaran town, soldiers had persuaded some 50 people not to proceed to the registration centers. The latter all admitted that they were transported from Lanao del Norte.
Maranao activist Abul Alibasa said volunteers engaged passengers temporarily held in the checkpoint in a conversation “to determine if they are Maranao.”
The flying registrants come by buses, jeeps, cargo hauling trucks, red-plated vans and ambulances. They are both minors and voting-aged people from Davao, the Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao del Norte, Iligan, and Maguindanao.
Alibasa explained that flying registrants assumed names of dead and ghost voters, and introduced fictitious names into the voters’ roll. Ryan D. Rosauro with reports from Richel V. Umel, Inquirer Mindanao
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