The Daily Tribune - ARMM polls postponement bill useless

26 May 2011

By Ninez Cacho Olivares | The Daily Tribune

Tribune-Ninez-Cacho-OlivaresSen. Bongbong Marcos is said to be mulling archiving the Senate bill that calls for the postponement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections.

The rule in the Senate is that Marcos, as chairman of his panel, and having five senators, can have the bill archived, and so it has to be archived.

However, this can still be revived by another set of five senators and floor discussions have to push through.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was earlier quoted as saying that if Bongbong recommends against the postponement of the ARMM polls, “five senators will have it archived” but that five senators can also bring it out from the archives, after which the discussions go to the floor and the committee report can be amended.

Noynoy may control the House of Representatives — but perhaps not that much, after congressmen who voted to impeach Ombudsman Merci Gutierrez on the Palace promise of releasing their pork barrel now know that the promise has not even been delivered, even as the Palace keeps on with its lies of the pork barrel being released. Still, as congressmen are the usual Malacañang lapdogs, that ARMM postponement bill passed by the House would contain that which Noynoy wants.

But Noynoy has little control over the Senate. For one, he only has some four or five Liberal Party senators on his side. While he also has non-LP allies in the Senate, they appear to be against the ARMM polls delay, mainly because there appears to be no rhyme or reason for the postponement, except to kick out the incumbent ARMM officials who will then be replaced by Noynoy’s appointees, whose identities have not even been disclosed.

The line used by Malacañang in pushing the ARMM polls postponement is that this is being done to reform the ARMM.

But surely, reforms cannot be effected within that short period, and by Noynoy’s appointees. If Noynoy, almost a year in office, has failed at instituting reforms, and curbing graft and corruption in his government, what makes anyone think that his appointees can succeed?

Not even his appointee-director of the Bureau of Corrections has been able to reform the prisons system, much less stop high profile and wealthy prisoners from leaving the prison compound whenever they wish.

Besides, there is too much opposition to the bill among Muslims. In Marawi City, 32 non-governmental organizations under the Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty have impressed on the Senate committee on local government their strong opposition to the postponement of the Aug. 8, 2011 election in the ARMM.

So just who is Noynoy listening to? His allies who desire to hold on to power and position, or to his claimed boss — the Filipino people?

Evidently, Noynoy wants the polls postponed and his appointees in ARMM, to ensure control over the ARMM for the 2013 elections. Part of it too, could be the path for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to take on the ARMM seats — all of which does not point to the claimed reforms Noynoy wants instituted.

But whatever comes off that step of archiving the bill, it is almost certain that, upon voting for the bill, there will be more senators against it than for it, which in the end, will spell finis for the ARMM postponement bill.

Why Noynoy continues to push the passage of this bill is difficult to understand, given the fact that there already is a ruling by the high court stating that ARMM elections postponement is unconstitutional, apart from which, Noynoy’s idea of staffing the ARMM elective offices with his appointees is being rejected by the Muslims themselves.

Noynoy will lose out on this certified “urgent” bill of his, even if Congress does pass it, mainly because once enacted into law and signed by Noynoy, the same will be challenged before the high court.

The elections will have to go on, as time would be against Noynoy and his LPs.