By Sara Fabunan | Business Mirror
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday extended to midnight on Wednesday the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the elections at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao scheduled in August.
Comelec Resolution 9232 that extended the filing of COCs was issued owing to the observation of the Comelec regional director at the ARMM “that the geography of the ARMM makes it difficult for potential candidates to file their COCs on time.”
“Nag-release ang Comelec kanina ng Resolution 9232 and in-extend ang period of filing of COCs. Ang pinaka-importanteng dahilan na ibinigay ay ang convenience nung mga magpa-file. As you know ang ARMM is a very geographically unique place. Maraming lugar—Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi—are, in fact, island-provinces so medyo nahihirapan silang bumiyahe papuntang Cotabato specifically [to file COCs] for the governor and vice governor positions, nahihirapan sila bumiyahe so mahuhuli sila kung hindi i-extend,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters.
The Comelec also announced all candidates aspiring for the position of governor and vice governor that they can now file their COCs in the cities of Zamboanga and Marawi.
Previously, COCs for the top positions in the ARMM were accepted only at the Comelec’s Cotabato office.
However, Jimenez noted that this move would be the last extension or postponement that the Comelec will resolve.
As of Monday, there are only seven aspirants running for governor, one of them is former Tarlac governor Margarita “Tingting” de los Reyes Cojuangco.
She claims to be a resident of Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao.
Cojuangco is the wife of former Tarlac congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and the aunt of President Aquino.
For the position of vice governor, there are only three aspirants who have so far filed their candidacy.
The Senate Committee on Local Governments is still deliberating on Senate Bill 2756, which is pushing for the postponement of the ARMM elections.
Jimenez said given the situation, until the lawmakers have not stated its clear stand on the postponement of regional polls, the Comelec will continue the preparations for the ARMM elections on August 8.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., under pressure to speed up passage of a controversial bill postponing the August 8 elections in the ARMM, said that he would hold one more hearing to let Executive officials justify the Palace-backed proposal that has met strong opposition from ARMM voters.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Local Governments, told reporters he plans to convene a final hearing to which three Palace officials, including Interior Secretary Jesus Robredo, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas and Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Deles, would be invited as resource persons.
“It is clear that the constituency of the ARMM have very strong opinions and have a singular view on this [poll postponement] problem,” Marcos said, citing the prevailing sentiment against deferment aired in the series of public hearings the committee conducted in the ARMM. He added this was why “we need to hear from the Executive department for them to explain exactly why it is that they have made this proposal.”
According to?Marcos, the hearings helped the Senate committee clarify many of the issues involving the postponement of the ARMM elections, the proposed appointment of officers-in-charge in place of incumbent officials and the synchronization of ARMM? polls? with the mid-term national? elections in 2013.
Contrary to the claim of Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles, the new officials to be elected in the August 8 ARMM can implement any peace agreement to be forged by the national government with Muslim rebel groups.
Dalumabi Lao Bula of the women’s organization Bai Labi Almujadillah issued this statement on Monday in brushing aside Deles’s position that the ARMM election must be reset to 2013 to “aid in the peace process.”
“Secretary Deles wants to sacrifice the August ARMM election for a peace process which she claims will be finished in three months’ time, but which can drag on forever,” Bula said.