Activists up efforts for peaceful village polls-A A +A
Friday, October 25, 2013
OZAMIZ CITY — Come Monday’s village elections, candidates for barangay chair in four Lanao del Sur towns will be without contenders, the civil society poll monitors said.
“This should significantly ease the tensions attendant to the political exercise and help ensure peaceful conduct of the barangay elections in the province,” said Maranao youth leader Abul Alibasa, member of the Task Force Kasalimbago.
The task force is a partnership between civil society groups in Lanao del Sur and the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army geared at the conduct of peaceful and credible polls.
Alibasa told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone that the no-contest situation for barangay chairs in the four towns of Bacolod-Kalawi, Calanogas, Bumbaran and Pagayawan was the result of efforts by local chief executives to prevent the sparks of conflict that can lead to internal fights within and among clans, known as rido.
Alibasa further said that in Bumbaran town, even contests for members of the barangay council are already settled. Bumbaran has 17 barangays.
In several barangays in the three other towns, there are also no contests for seats in the barangay council, he added.
The four towns comprise 78 barangays. Lanao del Sur has 1,158 barangays.
On October 28, voters have to elect the barangay chair and seven members of the council, known as kagawad.
Sources of conflicts
This hallmark of Western-style democracy is one of the principal sources of conflicts among residents vying for the posts, many of which turned bloody. In a 2005 study commissioned by The Asia Foundation, competition for an elective post comes second to dispute over land ownership as the main causes of rido in Moro communities.
In much of the Moro-populated areas in Mindanao, strong kinship loyalties and traditional structures of community governance coexist with the formal institutions of the Philippine state.
Throughout the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), some 959 barangays are classified as areas of concern while 35 are areas of immediate concern. These constitute 40 percent of the region’s 2,490 barangays, noted Moro woman leader Samira Gutoc-Tomawis.
As Monday’s polls draw near, Maranao activists are doubling efforts to ensure a peaceful conduct of the electoral exercise which will be done manually.
Gutoc-Tomawis described the upcoming polls as “a potential boiler keg... where (those with) the brawn, are wily, and moneyed are key winners.”
“This endangers our gains of cleansing and reforming the poll conduct in the province,” Gutoc-Tomawis said.
No failure of elections
During the 2013 midterm polls, Lanao del Sur experienced no failure of elections, a first since the electoral exercise was restored in 1987. Since 2010, automated systems are deployed for elections in the country, except those in the villages.
On Thursday, Task Force Kasalimbago presided over the signing of a peace covenant among barangay bets in Marawi City and in the towns of Madalum and Madamba.
On Friday, those who failed to sign in the previous schedules will have a joint ceremony at the 103rd Brigade headquarters in Marawi City.
Prior to the covenant signing, the barangay bets undergo discussions and dialogue. Religious leaders were also tapped to deliver sermons against violence and coercion, and lecture on positive qualities of a leader, said Gutoc-Tomawis.
So far, the covenant signing exercise has covered 20 of the 40 localities in Lanao del Sur.
3 persons killed
Since the filing of certificates of candidacies, at least three persons were killed in election-related violence in the province.
But Gutoc-Tomawis revealed that based on their monitoring, the violence in Bayang town in July where 10 persons were killed is related to barangay politics.
“We need to reform the way we do elections in our barangays if we want to improve the way these are governed. The barangays are the most important institutions for governance because it is the one closest to the people,” Gutoc-Tomawis stressed.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 25, 2013.