May 10, 2010
MARAWI CITY – Elections in Tugaya was brought to a standstill when gunfire broke out between opposing candidates.
One of the hottest areas in Lanao del Sur during elections, gun shots were already heard in the area Saturday last week. Volunteers of the Voters Collective of the Healing Democracy reported the first shot to have come from the headquarters of Baguinda Ali who is running for mayor.
The team of Interfaith and International Observers Mission assigned to the area scattered when the mayoralty candidates again opened fire this morning. They were able to regroup though and have resumed their monitoring.
In the municipality of Calanogas, a similar event occurred. The two competing parties opened fire from 8 to 9 this morning. Voters scattered and many went home, unable to vote.
“These are outright indications of the existing private armies in the province,” said Pastor Beltran Pacatang, Project Manager of Healing Democracy. “At the least, they are blatantly defying the gun ban and it’s a pity the Commission on Elections is helpless against this problem. Worse still, people have become used to this scenario that when it happens, they say ‘It’s Lanao. It’s normal.’”
“We want to break this thinking – that because it happens every election, no one bothers about it anymore. It is still very wrong and its regularity does not make it right.”
Voters’ Collective coordinator Aida Ibrahim likewise enjoined the people to help redefine Maranao elections. “I am a Maranao and I have firsthand experience in these election gunfires,” she said. “I But even if I constantly experience these, I still fear for my life. We all still fear for our lives. But since no one is taking notice, no one has the guts to oppose these, politicians are taking advantage of the silence and keep on perpetrating this culture of violence.”
HEALING DEMOCRACY is a Maranao grassroots project that seeks to organize and educate the Lanao del Sur electorate, and monitor the conduct of the May 2010 National Elections in the Province. It enjoys support of interfaith communities from various parts of Mindanao.
Spearheaded by Consortium of Christian Organizations for Rural-Urban Development (CONCORD), Inc, HEALING DEMOCRACY partners include Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) Lanao; Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM); Ethnic Groups Development Resource Center (EGDRC); Rural Missionaries of the Philippines; Community-Based Health Services (CBHS) Northern Mindanao; Suara Bangsamoro Northern Mindanao; Kawagib Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Rights; Samahan ng mga Lingkod na Artista sa Mindanao (SALAMIN); and Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) Lanao.
HEALING DEMOCRACY: Unleashing Interfaith Initiatives towards the Promotion of Democratic Electoral Process in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines is a European-funded project under the program European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) Philippines.