News Video Yahoo

Register now, PWD voters in ARMM urged


COTABATO City – Persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who still have not registered should do so now, an election coalition said.

While nationwide voters’ registration is set until October 31 this year, the schedule is tighter for those within the ARMM because of the looming Bangsamoro plebiscite, as well as the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections in February.

Kung plebiscite tayo ng June, ang makakaboto lang yung approved ng April 20 (If the plebiscite pushes through in June, only those approved by the Election Registration Board hearing on April 20 can vote), said lawyer Udtog Tago, provincial election supervisor of Maguindanao, during a stakeholders meeting led by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) on Tuesday.

Voters must therefore register on or before March 31 to make the cut, he added.

Registration is suspended for the month of February, however, to make way for the SK Elections on February 21.

Kung hindi ka registered, hindi makakaboto sa plebisito (If you are not a registered voter, you cannot vote in the plebiscite),” Tago reiterated.

The plebiscite is to ratify the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is still pending in Congress.

In his presentation during the PPCRV meeting, Tago highlighted crucial dates for registrants.

Comelec ERB schedule

The PPCRV meanwhile has vowed to step up in its efforts to ensure that upcoming polls in ARMM are more inclusive for PWDs.

“Our aim is ma-maximize yung voters na mag-register para ma-realize ang kanilang right to suffrage (Our aim is to encourage the most number of voters to register so they can exercise their right to suffrage),” said Fr. David Procalla, PPCRV regional coordinator for Mindanao and the ARMM.

During the meeting, he also formally led in the creation of a joint coordination team to be composed of representatives from government agencies, security forces and civil society organizations.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at the same meeting provided the coalition with data, as of 2014, bearing the names and addresses of PWDs collected by its field officers in the ARMM provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The data was based on submissions to the regional DSWD office by its local social workers, and is constantly subject to change due to mortality, migration and other factors.

While the list of PWDs includes minors, the majority are of voting age, said DSWD Maguindanao focal person for PWD issues Nestor Cabigas Jr.

Comelec data meanwhile shows that there were 2,353 registered PWD voters for Maguindanao; 1,333 for Basilan; 667 for Tawi-Tawi; 333 for Lanao del Sur; and 326 for Sulu as of October 2013.

Malaking tulong yung data na ‘yan (The data from DSWD will help us a lot),” said Maguindanao PPCRV sub-regional coordinator Abraham Peno.

Yan ang babasehan natin para mai-akma natin kung ang mga taong ito, qualified na mag-register (We will build our campaign on that, and find out if these persons are of voting age).”