Hataman: Elections must be fair, peaceful

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The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has made great strides— despite the challenges of prejudice and judgment — as the region has fought long and hard for reforms and good governance.

Together, we have sought reforms and strengthened institutions that were once thought of as impossible.

We are the home of the Bangsamoro, the Lumad, and the settlers, and it is this diversity from which we draw our greatest strength.

Together, we’ve worked hard to improve the lives we share with each other, lives that we devote to our families, and lives that drive development in our communities.

Now we have yet another opportunity to shape the future of our region — by voting in the upcoming elections. This is a democratic exercise, where every one stands to claim their rights, and this exercise must be fair and peaceful, free from intimidation and fear.

It is therefore imperative for all party leaders and candidates to set the standard, and to impress upon their supporters that violence and corruption have no place in the elections. They must commit to an electoral process that does not condone, let alone encourage, violence.

Remember that the result of this year’s elections will determine how we will confront the challenges we face today and will shape the future for our children. We have worked tirelessly to establish a government that is accountable to the people, and the elections is but another opportunity for us to build on our gains.

It is our responsibility as a community of equals who put a premium on humanity to help keep the peace, whether our side wins or loses the count.

In an election where violence reigns, nobody wins.

The only option is peace.

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