Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Noli backs proposed early voting in Maguindanao

December 9, 2009, 7:15pm

Original Story:

Vice President Manuel “Noli” De Castro on Thursday contended that, aside from ensuring peaceful and honest conduct of elections, the proposed early voting in Maguindanao and other poll hotspots can also be considered as a pilot exercise for the first automated polls in our country.

De Castro made the statement as he reiterated his call for the holding of advance voting in election hotspots, particularly in Maguindanao, at least before its actual schedule.

“The whole nation is very much concerned on how the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will proceed with the holding of elections in Maguindanao and other poll hotspots given the election-related violence we all witnessed recently. The proposed early voting will enable the Comelec and all poll watchdogs to anticipate potential problems that may also happen in the conduct of national polls,” De Castro said in a statement.

The Vice President also asked the poll body to carefully check and study as well, similar poll hotspots where there are known warlords.

“I am sure the military and the government knows who these people are. The areas they rule over should also be considered for early voting,” De Castro pointed out.

Earlier, The Philippine National Police (PNP) has classified Maguindanao and eight other provinces as election areas of concern as it prepares for the 2010 national elections.

The eight other provinces were Abra, Nueva Ecija, Masbate, Western Samar, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Sulu.

The PNP said the nine provinces were classified as election hotspots due to the presence of threat groups, history of intense political rivalry, recorded cases of election-related violent incidents in previous elections and the existence of active partisan armed groups or private armed groups.

It said the nine provinces will be categorized "according to threat level for purposes of strategic security planning and deployment of troops and resources for election security operations."

According to the PNP, 70 percent of Maguindanao is being considered as the "election watchlist areas" because of the massacre and the presence of rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) groups, private armies and intense political rivalry.

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