ARMM Polls Not a Shouting Contest, Says Bongbong

ARMM-polls-not-a-shouting-contestSenator Ferdinand “Bongbong Marcos, Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government stressed that the Palace-backed proposal to postpone the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls originally scheduled for August this year to 2013 cannot be decided by “who shouts the loudest and who has the biggest placard.”

Marcos said the committee still has to consider the legal and constitutional issues of deferring elections in August as scheduled.

“The legal and constitutional merits have to be properly examined,” the Senator pointed out.

He added that the committee also has to give time for political debates on the poll postponement, including whether holding them at the same time as national elections will be good for the region.

“There are still many things that need to be done for House Bill 4146 to gain the approval and concurrence of the Senate, if at all,” he said.

The earliest that Marcos can present his committee report on the floor will be on May 9, when the Senate comes back from recess. Elections are scheduled for August 8, 2011 and the start of filing of Certificate of Candidacies is set for the 2nd of May.

Marcos emphasized that he is merely following the procedures in handling the deliberations on the bill. “It’s not difficult to imagine the time constraints posed by the schedules I’ve just mentioned. Be that as it may, we will continue to do our Committee work, but making sure all sides are heard and the true sentiments of the people of ARMM are adhered to and given its proper weight as residents of the autonomous region with emphasis on “autonomous.”

The Senator added that It is part of the original proposal from the Palace that they will appoint Officer-in-Charges (OICs) in view of the vacancy “but the constitutionality of appointing OICs is still subject to heated debate and I am sure it will be tested not only here in the Senate but also in the Supreme Court for adjudication and that is something that we will have to contend with down the road.”

“Appointment of officials defeats the purpose of representation and suffrage. I do not think that there are any opposing views that reforms are needed in ARMM, but then again, is this the proper way?” he said.

Marcos called for initial hearing last April 7 to establish the “true sentiments” of the people in the ARMM before the vote in the Senate on the postponement of the elections gets underway.

In the said hearing, Marcos disclosed that the core question of synchronization is open to different opinions. Those who will actually conduct the election– Comelec, the watchdog organizations like the Namfrel and the PPCRV- all feel that it should be separate (not synchronized) for the simple reason that it requires special supervision.

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