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Law postponing ARMM election delayed

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.14

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President Aquino has been accused of delaying the signing into law of the bill postponing the election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), originally scheduled for August 8. The President is set to sign four bills into law on June 21, but not among them is the law deferring the polls. In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang said “We’re waiting for the right time to pass that.”

House minority leader Rep. Edcel Lagman said the motive is to deny the Supreme Court enough time to rule on expected petitions challenging the validity of the eventual law deferring the ARMM polls and authorizing the President to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) in the region until the 2013 mid-term elections. "As long as the enrolled bill remains unsigned by the President, any petition before the Supreme Court will be premature in the absence of a covering statute." Lagman said there will be no material time to file the petition and for the Supreme Court to stop the postponement because the signing ceremony is reportedly scheduled on June 30 or  only a month and eight days from the postponement date. 

Early this month, the Senate, voting 13-7, passed the bill deferring the ARMM polls to be synchronized with the 2013 elections. Those who voted "yes" were Senators Drilon, Enrile, Cayetano, Estrada, Guingona, Honasan, Lacson, Lapid, Pangilinan, Recto, Santiago,
Sotto, and Trillanes. Those who voted "no" were Senators Marcos, Angara, Arroyo, Escudero, Osmeña, Revilla, and Zubiri. (Senators
Cayetano, Legarda, and Villar were absent during the voting). The bill was later approved by the bicameral committee, after which it was
endorsed to the Office of the President where it remains unsigned.

On the issue of appointing an officer-in-charge (OIC) for the ARMM, Comelec chairperson Sixto Brillantes, Jr. has said that there is nothing in the bill postponing the elections that says that the President cannot appoint a non-Muslim for the post. Reports came out that the President has already picked former Anak Mindanao party-list representative Mujiv Hataman as possible OIC. Both the Palace and Hataman deny that the OIC has been chosen.

The approved Senate version of the ARMM postponement bill establishes a screening committee to choose the OICs. Senator Franklin Drilon has proposed an executive order (EO) providing guidelines in the selection of the OICs. In the draft EO, Drilon is eyeing the creation of a screening committee composed of 15 representatives from the provinces and cities in the ARMM, which should recommend, in consultation with the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the nominees for the vacant elected positions in the ARMM. The committee, Drilon said, should recommend to the President at least three nominees for each vacancy in the ARMM. “We have recommended that the ethno-linguistic, geographical, sectoral, educational and cultural factors be considered in appointing the members of the screening committee,” Drilon told the media last week. A total of 26 positions – one governor, one vice governor and 24 members of the regional assembly – will be vacant when the term of the incumbent officers expire on September 30.

(Sources: PDI, SunStar, other news sources)
 
 
 
 
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