Vote 2013

‘Let the Ramadhan spirit prevail in ARMM’

By NEF LUCZON, MindaNews

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – As Muslims around the world observe the holy month of Ramadhan, an official in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao expressed hopes it will “lighten the path of the registered voters.”

The impoverished autonomous Muslim region ended last Wednesday the 10-day re-registration of voters.

Assemblywoman Samira Gutoc-Tomawis also urged the politicians in the ARMM to abide with the teachings of Islam and give way for a transparent and good governance in the region.

During the month-long Ramadhan, Muslims are required to fast and pray five times daily from dawn to dusk, and read the Holy Qur’an and follow its teachings, like helping the poor and the sick.

“Will Ramadhan make us more honest? Will we value our right of suffrage more? asked Tomawis, also the convener of the group Reform ARMM Now (RAN).

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda yesterday also sent greetings to the Muslims in reverence to the observance of the Ramadhan.

“The coming weeks shall be dedicated to the solemn fulfillment of the tenets of your spirituality, demanding great sacrifice and due discipline, as an act of surrender to Allah, the beneficent, and all-merciful,” Lacierda said in a statement.

“These are times when your government has been working with all people of goodwill, to restore trust and confidence in our vital institutions. May we all be filled with this spirit of cooperation, respect, and confidence as we seek the path of peace,” he added.

In pushing for reforms and good governance in the ARMM, Tomawis said that RAN pushed the “One fingerprint, One person, One vote” campaign during the re-registration of voters.

A 22-year-old university student here who lives in Wao, Lanao del Sur claimed that she and her family were given an “extra allowance” of at least P500 each just so they would register.

“The population in the town was not big enough, that is why they wanted us to get registered,” she said.

On the “flying voters,” Tomawis said that some village officials were “pressured” to reach a “quota.”

Meanwhile, a group called “Bantay ARMM Registration Updates” has been formed in the social networking site Facebook.

In a post at this group, Tomawis urged the members to “carry on the torch of Bantay Elections as civilians are now emboldened to rise and claim their right to voice up their aspiration for a better place.”

User Rawia Pangadapun said the voters’ re-registration “is one big step forward to a new Marawi City.”

(ARMM WATCH  is a project of VERA Files in partnership with MindaNews, The Asia Foundation and Australian Agency for International Development.)