Manila, May 2, 2007 — The Asia Foundation, the premier non-profit organization devoted since 1954 to Asia’s development, will host a one-day conference, â€śForum on Islam, Elections, and Democracy,â€ť in Zamboanga City in Mindanao. As the Philippines prepares to go to the polls on Election Day, the Foundation will convene key representatives from local religious groups, non-governmental organizations, and international elections observers to discuss critical issues facing Muslim Filipino voters throughout the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The event, co-sponsored with the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will be held on Sunday, May 6, and feature presentations from visiting international election observers drawn from civil society organizations in six Asian countries that have majority or significant Muslim populations â€“ Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.
Philippine participants will be represented by the PCID and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) â€“ a nationwide network of 500,000 volunteer poll watchers â€“ that recently signed a landmark memorandum of agreement with 12 Muslim civil society organizations and the Darul Ifta Assembly of the Philippines to uphold clean, honest and credible elections especially in the ARMM.
Together, conference participants will share best practices gained from past elections, discuss transparency in the election process, and provide a particular focus on the role of ethnic, religious, or political conflict and how these issues have shaped their countriesâ€™ elections. The conference will also provide a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding the upcoming Philippines election. Following the conference, the international observer teams, coordinated by Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), will deploy throughout Mindanao until May 15.