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Inspiring Stories

Task Force Kasalimbago helps prepare Marawi for school opening

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 28 (PIA) -- Preparations for the opening of classes this June is in full swing here after members of the Task Force Kasalimbago joined the Department of Education (DepEd) in the annual schools maintenance week popularly known as Brigada Eskwela. 

The Task Force, headed by the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, mobilized parents, teachers, police and military personnel, youth, community residents, and other volunteers in the cleaning-up and repairing of schools last May 21 to 25. 

Major Abdullah D. Mocsana, Civil Military Operations Officer of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the move aims to assist DepEd in preparing schools for the opening of classes next week. 

He said the Task Force wanted to help in providing school children an environment conducive for learning. 

The Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School (APCES), Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School, Dansalan Elementary School, Angoyao Central School, Cadayonan Elementary School, and Calocan Elementary School, among others, benefited from the Brigada Eskwela. 

Abdel Mulay Jr., a youth volunteer, said he joined the activity to help fellow students feel comfortable in school during classes. 

“Through this activity, we have also shown that different sectors of the society can come together and be united to improve the community,” he added. 

APCES School Principal Pinamili Diron-Abedin meanwhile expressed appreciation to the Task Force for helping in the Brigada Eskwela and choosing APCES as one of the beneficiaries. 

She said APCES needed the clean-up and repairs after it was used as a polling center during the May 13 national and local elections. 

The Task Force Kasalimbago was formed following the success of the general voters’ registration in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It is aimed to work as a network of government organizations and civil society organizations committed to the strengthening of democratic ideals in the province through electoral reforms and activities that broadens people’s participation.

ARMM human rights body to look into displacement issue

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 16 (PIA) -- The Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC) has intensified efforts to address human rights issues especially for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region. 

“Our regional office is not focused only on monitoring cases but is also collaborating with other agencies for potential solutions as well,” said lawyer Laisa M. Alamia, the agency’s chairperson said in a press briefing on Thursday morning. 

The RHRC was established last year following the enactment of Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act 288 otherwise known as the “ARMM Human Rights Commission Charter of 2012.” 

Alamia said that her agency has been receiving support from various sectors in Mindanao including a new vehicle recently donated by the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). She said that the vehicle will be used in its monitoring activities while noting that the autonomous region houses a number of displaced individuals. 

“Forced displacement gave birth to human rights concern and we are banking on establishing human rights profile mechanism in the 110 municipalities across the region,” she said. 

“Despite shortage in personnel and technical resources, we are ready to strategize provincial human rights action centers throughout the region,” she added. 

In the 2012 forced displacement report released by UNHCR, 278,472 people were forcibly displaced in an accounted 35 incidents. Apart from natural disaster, the data cites that rido or clan feud were among the top three causes. 

“We are happy that UNHCR has been one of the active partners of the current regional administration in curbing the problem of human rights abuses in ARMM,” said Atty. Anwar Malang, regional government’s executive secretary. 

For his part, Arjun Jain, UNHCR Mindanao chief, has vowed to continue his agency’s support. 

“Rest assured that UNHCR and many other United Nation agencies and the international community will be behind you, and will continue supporting your work,” said Jain. (armmcommgroup/PIA-10)

2013 elections in Marawi better than 2010 polls, says Comelec official

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 16 (PIA) -- The conduct of the 2013 mid-term polls here has improved compared to the 2010 elections. 

Lawyer Michael Ignes, acting election officer in Marawi City, said the 2013 elections was far better compared to previous elections where many irregularities and violent incidents were reported. 

He said activities from the final testing and sealing of the PCOS machines until the casting of votes were smooth sailing except for few glitches with the machines during the election day. 

Ignes said common PCOS-related problems such as defective LCD and CF cards, as well as weak batteries, were not only encountered here but also in other parts of the country. 

Meanwhile, Provincial Election Supervisor Atty. Vidzfar Julie said all the 1,142 precincts in the province have functioned on May 13. 

Although official ballots for four barangays were accidentally misdelivered, he said the voting in these areas resumed after the ballots were switched back. 

Julie also clarified the reasons for the delayed transmission of results and canvassing. 

He said municipal election officers requested that transmittal of precinct-level results be conducted at the Provincial Capitol Gymnasium located in the city due to poor communication signals. 

According to him, all the transmissions were to be done supposedly at the respective precincts but they cannot transmit to the municipal hub due to signal problems. 

The delivery of the PCOS machines to the Provincial Capitol Gymnasium was further delayed because of the distance of some municipalities coupled with heavy rainfall on Monday night. 

He moreover explained that the election officers also requested for the municipal canvassing to be centralized and be held at the Provincial Capitol Gymnasium to ensure the safety and security of the members of the boards of canvassers. 

As of this writing, 36 out of 39 municipalities or approximately 95 percent has been canvassed by the provincial board of canvassers.

AFP, PNP help ease tensions in Lanao del Sur

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 16 (PIA) --- The joint forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) assigned in the province played a vital role in minimizing election-related violence in the province. 

Col. Glenn Macasero, commanding officer of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the conduct of the 2013 mid-term polls in the province on Monday has been generally peaceful. 

Amid few isolated incidents, the elections in the entire province were successful and that all the municipalities in the province have not reported failure of elections, he said. 

According to him, the success was due to the timely response of reaction forces in areas where tensions were reported. 

The orderly  elections could also be attributed to the presence of policewomen in the polling centers. 

The PNP has deployed one provisional female company to the province to assist in ensuring the safe conduct of elections. 

Police Chief Superintendent Noel Delos Reyes, PNP Regional Director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the move was based on past experiences where some of the election-related irregularities and disturbances were initiated by female voters. 

He said it would be difficult for policemen to respond to incidents involving female voters considering the culture in the province, hence, the deployment of policewomen. 

Meanwhile, Police Chief Inspector Eden Agsuay, overall company commander of the provisional female company, said the 110 trained policewomen from Parang, Maguindanao were able to respond immediately and ease tensions in their assigned areas. 

PNP deploys additional 112 policewomen in Lanao del Sur

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 12(PIA) --- The Philippine National Police has deployed one complementary provisional female company in the province to assist in ensuring the safe and fair conduct of elections tomorrow, May 13.

PCSupt. Noel Delos Reyes, PNP Regional Director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said 110 trained policewomen coming from Parang, Maguindanao will arrived here this afternoon to augment the existing police force in the province.

According to him, the move was based on past experiences where some of the disturbances in the previous elections were initiated by female voters.

He said the PNP is deploying policewomen because they are anticipating election irregularities that will be committed by women.

Considering the culture of the Maranaos, he said it would be difficult for policemen to respond to such irregularities.

Delos Reyes meanwhile said PNP is all set for the elections.

All the security preparations are already finalized in time for the elections tomorrow, he said

However, he said they cannot guarantee that no election-related violence will occur due to changing situations.

ARMM, Lanao del Sur bets share platforms in Candidates Forum

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 7 (PIA) -- Candidates vying for posts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional government and congressional seats in the province shared their respective platforms of governance in a candidates’ forum held here on weekend. 

Candidates present during the forum were mostly from the Liberal Party. They were incumbent ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman for regional gubernatorial position, Haroun Alrashid Lucman for regional vice-gubernatorial, and Ziaur-Rahman Adiong for the regional the legislative assembly post. 

Also present were Mesug Mitchell Manalocon, independent candidate for regional vice-gubernatorial position; Monaoray Saripada, independent candidate for the congressional post in the first district of the province; and Salih Benito, OMPIA party candidate for the congressional post in the second district. 

Hataman intends to continue the reform initiatives implemented by his administration in the region focusing on open governance and accountability, peace and security, and socio-economic development. 

His running mate, Lucman, expressed support to his programs and also underscored the need for competent vice governor who can step in whenever the governor is not available. 

Manalocon, on the other hand, plans for an 'industrialized ARMM' where more income and more job opportunity will be generated for the Bangsamoro. He also wants to develop halal foods and maximize the development of natural resources in the region. 

Adiong talked about strengthening the Madaris system saying that every public school in the region should have Ustadz who will be receiving salaries not allowances. 

Meanwhile, Saripada said she decided to run so that she can help and support the Framework on Bangsamoro while Benito said he will promote and improve Islamic education system should he be elected. 

The two-day forum, held at Social Hall of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Kampo Ranao, was spearheaded by Citizens CARE in partnership with Task Force Kasalimbago. 

Salic Ibrahim, provincial chairperson of the Citizens-Care, said the forum was aimed to help the public choose the right and responsible leaders. 

We have observed in the previous elections that voters choose their leaders based on the influence of their friends and families, as well as clan votes and candidates money. 

He said the Citizens-CARE and the Task Force Kasalimbago wanted this scenario to change by helping the voters decide based on the platforms of the candidates and through continuous voters education.

103rd Bde to set-up election monitoring center in Marawi City

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 6 (PIA) -- The 103rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army will set-up a Provincial Election Monitoring Action Center (PEMAC) in Kampo Ranao, here, to facilitate issues and concerns regarding election-related incidents. 

103rd Bde Commander Col. Glenn Macasero said the PEMAC will be manned by personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Commission on Elections (Comelec). 

He said the PEMAC will serve as the central monitoring unit where information relative to the conduct of elections in the province including security coverage can be accessed. 

Aside from the AFP, PNP and Comelec personnel, Macasero said a representative from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will also be present at the PEMAC. 

He said the MILF representative will be a big help to the PEMAC since he can easily coordinate and communicate with their elements in the field. 

The 103rd Infantry Brigade is also inviting radio communications groups in the province to set-up a base at the PEMAC. 

Macasero said they can assist in the verification of information because they have various members deployed in the ground. 

Haribon Brigade readies for May 13 elections in Lanao del Sur

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 6 (PIA) -- The 103rd Infantry (Haribon) Brigade is fine-tuning its security preparations to ensure the successful conduct of elections in the province. 

“We are already in the final phase of our preparations for election-related security requirements in the entire province,” Col. Glenn Macasero, commanding officer of the Haribon Brigade, said during the Electoral Security Summit held at the Mamitua Saber Research Center in Mindanao State University Main Campus here last May 3. 

According to him, they are expecting human barricades and other forms of destructions to delay the deployment of Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs), election forms, supplies, and equipments, 

As such, they have intensified the establishments of check and choke points operations as well as closely monitored the activities of partisan armed groups in the area. 

We also conducted mobile patrols to prevent any escalation of fightings among political contenders, he said. 

The Brigade Commander further that they will be allocating more personnel in areas considered as immediate concerns or where there are intense political rivalries. 

With regards to the issue of BEIs, he disclosed that more than 300 police personnel are reserved for the province to act as BEIs and be deployed to areas with no BEIs, or in cases where BEIs will not report to their assigned areas. 

Macasero also said that the AFP and PNP communication facilities will be utilized to provide basic information, status, updates and immediate solutions especially in areas with no power supply and signal. 

But he gave assurance that generator sets will be provided in anticipation of power outage. 

The PCOS machines have its own battery which can lasts for 12 hours, he added. 

The Haribon Brigade together with the Lanao del Sur Police Office are deputized by the poll body to secure the deployment and retrieval of the PCOS machines including its final testing and sealing, installation of transmission equipment, and the conduct of elections, canvassing, and random manual audit here.

MSU continues to help capacitate Muslim communities

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 2 (PIA) -- Mindanao State University (MSU) continues to serve as an effective instrument in capacitating Muslim communities to catch up with more developed communities in the country. 

This was emphasized by MSU President Macapado Muslim during the groundbreaking rites of the College of Information Technology building in MSU main campus recently. 

Muslim said one noticeable trend in the university today is the increasing number of top performing Muslim students and graduates. 

He cited as an example a Muslim graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology, who led the 1,837 graduates of MSU Marawi last April 4, 2013. 

“Aiman Cairoden is the first Muslim summa cum laude graduate in the 51-year history of MSU,” he proudly cited. 

Muslim also noted the commendable performance of MSU graduates in board and bar examinations saying that a good number of these achievers were Muslims. 

“In the last five years, from 2008 to 2012, the MSU system has produced a total of132 topnotchers and top 10 placers, 69 of whom are from MSU Marawi, 28 from MSU Iligan, 24 from MSU General Santos, four from MSU Tawi-Tawi, three from MSU Naawan, and two from MSU Maguindanao,” he said. 

He further noted that this positive trend show that Muslim students are now catching up with their Christian brothers and sisters. 

The MSU President also pointed-out that the university has been playing a very significant pre-emptive peace building function. 

“MSU campuses are essentially education and peace building camps competing with the camps of the Abu Sayyaf, MNLF, MILF and CPP-NPA in attracting our young Muslim brothers and sisters,” he added. 

According to him, the Mindanao conflict would have been more precarious today without the presence of MSU campuses in many of the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

Comelec clarifies poll issues in Marawi City

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 3 (PIA) -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) here clarified some of the election issues raised by multi-sectoral stakeholders during the Electoral Reform Summit on Thursday. 

Atty. Michael Ignes, acting city election officer (EO), assured the stakeholders that the sanctity of the ballots will be protected while in transit from the airport to the province, saying the ballots are sealed and protected with serial numbers. 

He said they will also give notice so that poll watchers will be aware when the ballots have arrived. 

Ignes further gave assurance that there's no possibilty of hacking the PCOS machines. 

He also explained why the PCOS machines will be stored in one place upon arrival in the city. 

Due to scarcity of security personnel, Ignes said the PCOS machines will be stored at the Amai Pakpak Central Elementary School. The machines will then be distributed throughout the polling centers in the city on May 10 for final testing and sealing. After that, they will be brought back to the school and distributed again to the polling centers for May 13. 

Ignes said electoral reforms have also been instituted by the Comelec such as the conduct of automated fingerprint identification system and cleansing of the list of registered voters as well as reshuffling of EOs. The reshuffling was done to eliminate or erase suspicion of connivance between EOs and local government units.

Election reform summit highlights role of poll monitors, observers

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur, May 3 (PIA) -- Poll monitors and observers play a vital role in ensuring the credibility of the upcoming May 13 elections. 

This was highlighted during the Election Reform Summit held on Thursday at the Mamitua Research Center in Mindanao State University here. 

Police Supt. John Roderick Morales, deputy for administration of the Lanao del Sur Police Office, said the help and cooperation of all election stakeholders, especially poll monitors and observers, are needed to ensure the conduct of secure and fair elections. 

He said even if numerous security personnel are deployed in the polling places, it will still be hard to achieve secure and fair elections without the eyes and the voice of monitors and observers. 

He thus hopes for more monitors and observers from non-government organizations and private organizations during the elections. 

Assemblywoman Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) legislative assembly women sector representative, reiterated the same sentiment, saying that the gains of the electoral reforms implemented in the region will be re-echoed during the elections through the help of poll watchdogs and international monitors. 

She said the 103rd Infantry Brigade will also place closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at strategic places to monitor polling areas. 

Gutoc-Tomawis added that the reformed ARMM will be tested with the coming elections. 

Lawyer Michael Ignes, acting election officer of Marawi City, meanwhile reminded the Citizens CARE or the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reform to immediately submit a list of monitors to his office for authentication and issuance of identification cards.