The Islamic City of Marawi concluded the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Special Elections yesterday, September 22, 2018.
Dubbed as “the most peaceful elections yet, ” the elections for the Islamic City’s 96 Baranggays consisting of 351 established precincts in 34 voting centers took off with no alarming incident.
With the exception of heated arguments and isolated fistfights, the voting of an estimated 50,893 voters came to a close with a sound accomplishment.
Community Participation – The Key to Success
Weeks before the election, several preparations were made by the combined Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (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. 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,” notes Col Romeo Brawner, Spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Ranao.
Prior to the elections, several information intended to discredit the election circulated among the locals.
To ensure constituents are not deterred by the false information, security forces and other stakeholders sent out on an information campaign through the social media and loudspeaker operations 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.
Locals lauds security preparations
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”, cites Bae Soraida Sabdullah Sarigala, a local reporter for 27 years noted.
Residents also note that this is the first election in Marawi where “not a single election-related fatality” was recorded.
The Islamic City of Marawi is currently under Martial Law.
In a separate comment by National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) personnel, 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.
The swift response was made after residents actively reported incidents to security forces.
“This is a solid manifestation that our Meranao Brothers and Sisters are at one with our security forces in ensuing a peaceful Marawi. We would like to commend the Election Officers, the Board of Election Tellers (BETs), observers, and the voting public for a generally peaceful Election. Indeed, they are truly defenders of Democracy,” Col Brawner said.
He also with the community’s continued support, we are well on our way to making a better Marawi.