By Analou de Vera and Bonita Ermac
ILIGAN CITY — The Islamic City of Marawi concluded last weekend what local officials have dubbed as “the most peaceful elections yet” throughout 34 voting centers in the city, with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) confirming no untoward incidents in the course of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Special Elections (BSKE2018).
“No untoward incident has been reported and the Comelec now considers the #BSKE2018 in Marawi to have been the most peaceful one in the recent history of Marawi City,” said Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez on Sunday.
Jimenez said all 177 clustered precincts opened and closed on time; and all winners have been proclaimed in the 96 barangays of the city as of 6 a.m. of Sunday.
While official data is not yet available, anecdotal reports indicated a “healthy” voter turnout, he said.
“The Comelec congratulates the people of Marawi City without whose participation and dedication – in unstinting cooperation with the members of the Electoral Boards and Comelec field officials and personnel – this successful electoral exercise, with #ZeroFailures, would not have been possible,” he said.
Jimenez also attributed the success of the election on the close coordination of all agencies concerned such as the Education and Health departments, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, National Youth Commission, Philippine Red Cross, and the Marawi local government.
“We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the power sector, particularly the DOE (Department of Energy), the NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines), and Lasureco,” he added.
The Comelec official also acknowledged the contribution of poll watch groups: the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) “for their indispensable participation, ensuring the credibility of the elections and safeguarding the mandate of the sovereign Filipino people.”
Weeks before the election, several preparations were made by the combined AFP and PNP forces, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Department of Education (DepEd), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), Civil-Society Organizations and the Local Chief Executives to ensure the Meranao People’s right to suffrage.
“We have made measures to include peace covenants for the candidates and community-based dialogues to ensure we get a cohesive message across,” said Colonel Romeo Brawner, Jr., spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Ranao.
“We reaffirmed our fellow Meranaos that we have more than enough troops to secure their right to vote and go after those who intend to delay or disrupt the elections” Brawner said.
Prior to the elections, information intended to discredit the election circulated among the locals.
To ensure that the constituents were not deterred by the false information, security forces and other stakeholders carried out an information campaign through social media and loudspeaker around Marawi City.
The information dissemination reassured the public that the security forces, Comelec, DepEd and other stakeholders are committed to make peaceful and credible election happen in Marawi City.
Unlike previous elections, several organizations have observed a remarkable improvement on peace and order in the different voting centers.
“Peaceful! Sana ganito ka secured every election”, said Bae Soraida Sabdullah Sarigala, a local reporter for 27 years.
Residents also noted that this was the first election in Marawi where “not a single election-related fatality” was recorded.
The Islamic City of Marawi is currently under Martial Law.
NAMFREL said four of the 12 precincts visited by observers recorded incidents of fistfights with supporters of opposing candidates but was immediately resolved by the Comelec and security forces without further disruption.
“This is a solid manifestation that our Meranao brothers and sisters are at one with our security forces in ensuring a peaceful Marawi”.