By Angie M. Rosales | The Daily Tribune
The earliest that the Senate can present its proposed version on the Palace-backed bill proposing to postpone the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) polls is on May 9, when Congress resumes sessions.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said this yesterday even as he noted that there is no firm assurance that his committee on local government will be able to come up with recommendations citing the reason that they still have to consider the legal and constitutional issues confronting this matter.
“The legal and constitutional merits have to be properly examined,” the senator said.
Marcos emphasized the need for his committee to give time for political debates on the deferment of the Aug. 8 polls, including whether holding them at the same time as national elections will be good for the region.
The bill cannot be decided by “who shouts the loudest and who has the biggest placard,” he added.
“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 Aug. 8, 2011 and the start of filing of Certificate of Candidacies is set on May 2.
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,’” he said.
Under the original proposal from the Palace, the elected officials will be replaced by officers-in-charge (OICs) who will be appointed by the Executive in view of the vacancy.
Marcos, however, noted that 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.