Election watchdog to monitor election-related violence in ARMM

Cotabato City— The Maguindanao Peace advocates (MPA), Cotabato City Coalition for Change (4C), the Cotabato Coalition for Conflict Mitigation and Meaningful Election (CCCOME) and others CSOs in Western and Northern Mindanao commenced their pre-election activities by conducting coordination meeting with the security sector and the COMELEC and other stakeholders to come up with good strategies in preventing election related violence or ERVs during the May 2016 national and local elections.

Mahdie C. Amella, lead convener of the election monitoring watchdog said, “There were 23 member-organizations of MPA operating in Maguindanao that have already organized their volunteers.

Amella, also the Executive Director of Mindanao Action for Peace and Development Initiatives (MAPAD) said, “This program aims to prevent ERVs-defined as any acts or threats of coercion, intimidation, or physical harm perpetrated to affect an electoral process, or that arise in the context of electoral competitions.  When perpetrated to affect an electoral process, violence may be employed to influence the process of elections”. 

These effects normally resulted to a ‘rido’ or feuds, Amella added.

During the “Salindaw Kanu Inged” radio program hosted by Tu Alid Alfonso at DXJC 99.0 Voice FM on Saturday, Datuan Magon, Senior Program Officer of UNYPAD discussed the objectives of ERV’s, and their program of activities in monitoring the elections. 

“We are an independent poll body that will facilitate activities like election forum, signing of peace covenants among political candidates and monitoring before and during the conduct of election, Magon said

“Our main objective here is to minimize cases of violence during and after elections that eventually become ‘rido’ as this would have negative effect to the relationship of Moro candidates who are joining political exercise,” he stressed.

Book of Rido 2004 says that, “The large number of recorded ‘rido’ took place from 2000 to 2004 that average 127 cases of ‘rido’, a year due to politics and land conflict”.

The election watchdog will campaign for the conduct of fair and honest election by all candidates.

Ustadz Zuharto Mamengkog of the UNYPAD, also a co-anchor of the said radio program appealed to Moro political candidates not to sacrifice good relationships between and among them. 

The 4Cs will focus their activities in Cotabato City, CCCOME is in North Cotabato, while the MPA areas is Maguindanao, and the Ranao Coalition for Synergetic Election and Reconciliatory Initiative for Development Opportunity (RIDO) is responsible for Lanao areas. 

The Asia Foundation (TAF) and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) are supporting the implementation of the program.