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Comelec studies plan to hold early polls in ARMM

Posted on: April 9, 2010

Comelec studies plan to hold early polls in ARMM

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:38:00 04/09/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is studying a petition to let voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) cast their ballot ahead of the May 10 polls.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento told INQUIRER.net that holding early elections in ARMM would allow the Comelec to “focus on holding orderly elections the region’s provinces” where polls in the past were marred by fraud and violence.

“There is a petition to hold early elections in the ARMM to be heard on April 15, which we welcome because it would allow the Comelec, media, watchdogs, and foreign observers to focus on the region’s provinces and to help guard the polls against fraud and violence,” said Sarmiento.

The ARMM provinces – Basilan (excluding Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu, except Tawi-Tawi – have been identified as election hotspots by the Philippine National Police.

At least 118 of the 558 cities and municipalities being closely monitored by the PNP belong to ARMM.

On Nov. 23, 2009, 57 people, including 34 journalists covering the filing of certificate of candidacy by Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, were killed in Maguindanao.

The conduct of early automated polls in the ARMM should be “at least a week ahead of the May 10 polls,” said Sarmiento.

ARMM was the first region in the country to experience automated polls where direct recording electronic and optical scan poll machines were used during the 2008 regional elections.

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