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Watchdog prepares for Muslim polls

Church-backed monitor says talk of election delay won't affect its preparations

Watchdog prepares for Muslim polls
Muslim women look for their names in the voters' list during the last ARMM elections (Photo: Comelec)
Julian Labores, Manila
Philippines

May 25, 2011

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The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting says talk of postponing elections in the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao will not deflect it from its preparations for the polls. The Church-backed poll watchdog said it will not allow itself to be caught unawares should moves to postpone the elections fail. The government wants to put off the elections due on August 8 this year, drawing widespread criticism including from officials in the Catholic Church. "Despite the pending measure at the House of Representatives, we are preparing for the polls rather than be caught flat-footed," said Henrietta de Villa, the council’s chief. She said her organization and the Commission on Elections have been preparing since January "to make sure the polls go smoothly." De Villa also said she sees no reason why the elections should not be held as scheduled. Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela, Basilan, earlier warned that postponing the polls would result in "chaos". "They [the people] want elections… it must go on. This should not be stopped by the president," the prelate said, adding that any delay can create tension in the region. "To avoid tension, we have to proceed with our constitutional right to elect our own leaders," Bishop Jumoad said. President Aquino earlier called on legislators to expedite the passage of a measure that will postpone elections in Muslim Mindanao. The president said his administration wants to correct problems surrounding the governance of the region. PM14302
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