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Comelec probes Indon nationals who voted in Davao Occidental

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By Joseph Jubelag 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Com­mission on Elections (Comelec) is conduct­ing an investigation into reports that Indonesian nationals were able to cast their votes during the mid-term elections last Monday in Davao Occidental after they had surreptitiously secured Philippine voters’ registration.

Lawyer Michael Abas, Comelec regional director for Davao region, said he had already called the attention of Rosalina Natividad, election officer of Sa­rangani town in Davao Occiden­tal to verify reports that some Indonesian nationals residing in Sarangani island municipality were able to register as Filipino voters.

(MANILA BULLETIN)

Commission on Elections (MANILA BULLETIN)

The Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) had ear­lier sought the assistance of the Comelec in the verification of Indonesians who were issued with Philippine voters’ registration.

Joyce Kandice Villaraza, alien control officer for Saran­gani province and Batuganding border crossing station based in Sarangani town, has asked Natividad for the list of regis­tered voters in the municipality of Sarangani that will serve as reference in the verification of voters’ identities.

There were about 3,000 Indo­nesians locally known as “Maruri” who are presently residing in the island municipality of Sarangani which is located at the border of Indonesia and Philippines.

These Indonesian nation­als had settled in the island for decades through migration and inter-married with the locals.

Immigration officials said the undocumented Indonesians had either secured documents which bear their Filipino identities, in­cluding voters’ registration and identification cards as beneficia­of the welfare assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Villaranza said the BID re­ceived reports from law enforce­ment agencies over the presence of Indonesian nationals in some parts of Southern Mindanao who were posing as Filipinos.

He said the BID is closely coordinating with the Comelec in looking into reports that some local officials in Sarangani town had facilitated the issuance of Philippine voters’ registration for the Indonesian nationals residing in the area.

Abas said the Comelec lacked the time to scrutinize and verify the list of registered voters in Sa­rangani town before the mid-term elections on Monday.

He explained that the sup­posed voters’ registration is­sued to Indonesian nationals is presumed valid unless there are complainants who will question their authenticity.

“The Indonesian nationals could likely vote unless there are complainants who will come out to question their qualifications as Filipino registered voters,’ Abas said.

Security officials have ex­pressed concern over the pres­ence of suspected foreign terror­ists operating in Mindanao who pass themselves off as Filipinos.

An intelligence official work­ing for the government’s counter-terrorism agency said they had retrieved documents purportedly issued by concerned government agencies that showed suspected foreign terrorists were issued with Philippine birth certificates by submitting spurious docu­ments required for birth certifi­cate registration.

He said this had caused alarm among security forces which have been pursuing foreign terrorists who are embedded with local ISIS-inspired terror groups in Mindanao.

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