ARMM teachers lauded for efficient May 9 poll duty performance

NDBC BANTAY BOTO 2016  • Wed May 18, 2016 07:01 AM  •  1,828   0
By John Unson
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John Magno, ARMM education secretary (right), and Election Director Michael Abas prepare their post-election reports on the conduct of the May 9 elections in the autonomous region. (JOHN UNSON)
John Magno, ARMM education secretary (right), and Election Director Michael Abas prepare their post-election reports on the conduct of the May 9 elections in the autonomous region. (JOHN UNSON)
COTABATO CITY  ---- Failures in the conduct of the May 9 elections in certain areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were manageable compared to the problems and the violence that affected the four regional elections prior, officials said Wednesday.

Lawyer Michael Abas, director of the Commission on Elections for ARMM, said there was failure of elections on May 9 only in the town of Binidayen in Lanao del Sur and in several polling sites in Sulu.
A special election in Binidayen was administered peacefully on May 14 without any problem at all, he said.

“There was failure there in Binidayen not because of security problems, or the absence of teachers and security personnel, but because the election officer disappeared that day. That official had been asked to explain his side of the case,” Abas said.

Election-related violence in the autonomous region, failures in the conduct of electoral exercises in certain areas and post-election hostilities among political clans were worst during the four ARMM polls from between 2001 to 2013.

The now infamous November 23,2009 “Maguindanao Massacre,” the country’s worst election-related violence ever, actually preceded the May 2010 local and presidential elections.

“Credit has to go to the teachers, the police and the military for the successful conduct of the recent elections in the ARMM,” Abas said, referring to the May 9 synchronized local, regional and national elections.

Abas said teachers in the autonomous region performed their election duties efficiently.
“I am grateful to these teachers who helped us administer the May 9 elections,” Abas said.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Chief Supt. Ronald Estilles, director of the ARMM police, said there were no reports of attacks on teachers by partisans, or by poll watchers during the May 9 polls.

There were recorded cases of teachers held hostage and harmed, causing their confinement in hospitals, and killed either before and after the polling day in the last four regional electoral exercises.

John Magno, regional secretary of the Department of Education in the autonomous region, said the heavy presence of policemen and soldiers in politically troubled barangays on May 9 provided his subordinate-teachers enough protection.

“It was a thick layer of protection. When government agencies and barangay folks work together for a common cause, we get good results, we achieve our goals,” Magno said.

Magno, Abas and Regional State Prosecutor Ramy Lawi Guiling comprised the regional board of canvassers for ARMM’s May 9 regional gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial race.

The May 9 polls came after the DepEd-ARMM hired no fewer than 3,000 duly-licensed teachers, subjected to rigid classroom instruction drills and written admission tests from between 2014 until April this year to replace “ghost teachers” listed in payrolls that proliferated during the time of past regional governors.

The ARMM’s education department was touted as the region’s most corrupt agency, plagued with thousands of ghost teachers and dozens of non-existent schools that received regular operating budget from its coffer, before ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman got to the helm of the regional government.

Hataman first assumed the ARMM leadership in December 2011, as an appointed caretaker, following the incarceration of Regional Governor Zaldy Ampatuan in connection with the Maguindanao Massacre. Hataman was elected as ARMM’s eighth regional governor on May 13, 2013 and, subsequently, reelected to a second term last May 9.

Teachers in Maguindanao had told reporters, who toured polling sites on May 9, their being duly-licensed and clothed with legitimate appointments by Hataman fired their zeal to perform their election duties efficiently.

One teacher said she and her companions even thwarted an attempt by an arrogant coordinator of a local candidate to fill out ballots first before distributing them to voters.

“I told the person to move away because we are representatives of the Philippine government, protected by the Civil Service Commission and guided by the Comelec and that whoever harms us will be prosecuted by the government,” said the teacher, who asked not to be identified.

The poll watcher left the voting precinct without a word when another teacher asked “gusto mo bang magka `rido’ ka at ang gobyerno? Kaya mo kaya? Baka kung saan ka dadamputin. Baka hindi mo kakayanin.” The term rido means clan war in most Moro vernaculars.
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