SENATE President Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday said the Senate has up to June 9, when Congress adjourns sine die, to vote on the Malacañang-backed postponement of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The House of Representatives passed last month its counterpart bill (HB 4146) postponing the ARMM polls from August 8 this year and synchronizing it with the 2013 midterm elections.
"Time is getting short but we will try anyway. That’s why this morning, when I met some members of the Commission on Elections, I told them to prepare just in case we could not make a decision whether to postpone or to continue," Enrile said.
He said he is still awaiting the report of the Senate committee on local governments chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The Marcos panel flies to Marawi City today to hold a public hearing with regional and provincial officials. Marcos said the hearings need to be held to provide the bases for the conclusions in the eventual committee report.
"I am confident that after that hearing, the Committees on Local Government and Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws will have the proper basis for a complete committee report which I will bring to the floor soon after the hearing in Marawi," he said.
"We will look into the true sentiments of the people of ARMM regarding the Palace’s bill seeking to postpone elections to 2013. It is the autonomy status of that region that we must give due consideration to in our deliberations regarding the elections scheduled for this year," Marcos said.
Among those invited to the hearing are ARMM officials led by acting regional governor Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong, Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Marawi City Mayor Fahad Panarigan Salic, and League of Municipalities of the Philippines chapter presidents Mayor Datu Ibrahim Mangudadatu (Maguindanao), Mayor Abraham Burahan (Sulu), and Mayor Nurbert Sahali (Tawi-Tawi).
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the synchronization of the ARMM polls with the 2013 midterm elections will help move the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front forward.
Deles said the postponement will provide "for the flexibility" that whatever will come out of the negotiating table will not be subjected to the prejudice of a newly elected regional government that has a term of three years.
Deles added that the peace panels would also find it easier to come up with solutions to the Mindanao armed conflict without the distraction of elections that may bring violence and political polarization. "Mahirap na nga ang peace process, pahihirapin mo pa. Iyan ang ating iniiwasan," she said.