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Underaged ARMM residents still registering as voters

Story and photos by RICHARD FALCATAN

LAMITAN CITY—The practice of underaged Muslims attempting to register as voters continues in the ongoing general registration of voters in Muslim Mindanao, but they won’t get away with it because the Commission on Elections will still validate all registrants before releasing the voters’ list, officials here said.

Doon sa mga underage, huwag nyo isipin na magrehistro kayo,” said Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman.  “The Commission will track you.”

The practice of children as young as 10 years old enlisting as voters has been a long time problem in the ARMM, and one of the reasons that voters’ lists in many areas has been considered compromised and unreliable.

As a result, all voters’ lists in the ARMM have been purged, and a new registration of voters held in the five ARMM provinces—Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur—and in the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

Aside from underaged registrants, other problems include hakutan (the transporting of voters) and the lack of forms. Some problems are normal during elections, Hataman said, but he said overall the registration went well.

Registrations in ARMM started Monday and will end on July 18. The region that had a population of 4.1 million as of 2007 has two cities, 113 towns and 2,470 barangays.

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