Manila Bulletin – Senate hearing on ARMM polls

By Ali G. Macabalang and Nonoy E. Lacson | Manila Bulletin

mb_onlineMARAWI CITY, Philippines – The Senate Committee on Local Government is set to hold a public hearing on the government’s move to postpone the Aug. 8, 2011 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in what stakeholders Sunday described as a “precise action” to validate the real sentiments of the residents of Lanao del Sur and this city.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. called on his constituents to attend the hearing set by Senate Committee chair Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on May 19 at the provincial Capitol gymnasium here and “express freely their true feelings” about the issue.

Adiong said his constituents were “glad” about the decision of the Senate committee to hold its own hearing here because the occasion will “hopefully ascertain” their majority sentiments on the government drive to synchronize the ARMM elections with the 2013 regular polls and allow the President to appoint caretakers for 20 months.

The May 19 hearing here will tackle mainly the Senate version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives last March, few days after two concerned committees of the lower chamber held a consultation here and in the cities of Zamboanga and Cotabato.

Meanwhile, at least three governors in the ARMM yesterday urged senators to consider postponing the elections in the ARMM to 2013 and allow the President to appoint a non-politician as caretaker for the region.

Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, and Tawi-Tawi Gov. Sadikul Sahali jointly asked senators to consider giving a chance to peace and development of the ARMM by postponing the elections to 2013.

The three governors said giving an option and chance to President Aquino to appoint a non-politician to administer the affairs of development of the region is the best option for the government to adopt at this time, instead of holding the elections in the region in August.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday said that “there are numbers” in the Senate who support the postponement of the ARMM elections and its synchronization in the mid-term 2013 elections.

“As far as I know, there are numbers who are in favor. Me personally, I’m in favor of synchronization. I mentioned that to everybody. I don’t hide my position on things,” Enrile said.

Enrile said he has yet to receive the committee report of the Senate committee on local government chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the real sentiments of the ARMM people on the elections.

Tan said postponing the elections in the ARMM would simply mean giving them a chance to development under a new leadership and directions in the region’s political and development affairs.

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