GMA News - Senate panel report on ARMM polls out next week

28 May 2011

By Kimberly Jane Tan | GMA News

GMA_onlineThe Senate committee on local government will come out with its report on the the proposed postponement of the Aug. 8, 2011 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls early next week, its chairman Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said Friday.

In a statement, Marcos said he has informed Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and presidential adviser for political affairs Robert Llamas that he will submit and present the commitee report next week in time for a plenary vote.

"I have informed my colleagues, Senator Franklin Drillon (sponsor of SB 2756) and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile of the schedule of the committee so as to give them enough time, following procedure, to ensure that a vote by all senators takes place before adjournment," he said.

The Senate will adjourn sine die on June 9 and will resume session on July 25.

Marcos issued the statement after presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda asked him not to archive the bill and immediately report the committee report on the floor.

Marcos noted, however, that he is actually looking forward to the opportunity to explain his committee report to the Senate body.

"I hope this is of some help to Mr. Lacierda's unnecessary fretting and fussing about the bill lacking time for a vote in plenary and all kinds of worries stemming from not having been informed of the arrangements in schedules here at the Senate," he said.

"I am not familiar or privy to the workings of the Malacanang Communications Group (I'm not sure anyone is) but it's either Mr. Lacierda is not being informed about the status of the bill and where it's headed or he is being too clever by half by putting a spin on the issue," he added.

One last hearing

Marcos said they have scheduled a final hearing on Senate Bill 2756 and House Bill Number 4146, the bills seeking to postpone the ARMM polls, on Tuesday to give "proper basis" for the committee report that they are preparing.

He said high-ranking officials from Malacañang have been invited to serve as resource persons, including Robredo, Llamas, presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles, Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes and poll body legal department head Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan.

"We are giving the executive branch of government the last say, so to speak, to explain exactly why they had made this proposal to cancel the ARMM elections scheduled for August of this year in favor of Malacañang appointees," Marcos said.

The postponement of the ARMM elections is among the priority bills of President Benigno Aquino III, who wants it to be synchronized with the May 2013 national elections.

Marcos, however, had earlier said that his panel is not likely to recommend the postponement of the ARMM elections.

He found allies in Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Francis Escudero, who said that poll postponement is unconstitutional.