Senate approves bill resetting ARMM polls PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 14:13

The Senate approved late Monday night a measure calling for the postponement of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections and synchronizing it with the 2013 mid-term national and local elections.

Voting 13-7 with no abstention, the senators passed on third and final reading the adopted House Bill 4146 taking into consideration Senate Bill 2756 or an act providing for the synchronization of the elections and the term of office of the elective officials of the ARMM with those of the national and other local officials.
Voted in favor includes Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Gregorio Honasan, Vicente Sotto III, Teofisto Guingona III, Ralph Recto, Francis Pangilinan, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Manuel Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada, Panfilo Lacson, Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano and Franklin Drilon.

Those who voted against the bill are Senators Joker Arroyo, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Edgardo Angara, Ramon Revilla Jr., Sergio Osmena III, Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Senator Loren Legarda is out of the country while Senator Manny Villar and Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano were absent.
Throughout the grueling six-hour debates, Drilon, sponsor of the bill, painstakingly explained to his colleagues the importance of postponing the ARMM elections since the Constitution provides for the synchronization of the local and national elections.

”The bill proposes for the synchronization of the elections and the terms of office of the elective officials of the ARMM with those of the national and local officials which is provided under the Constitution,” Drilon explained.

Drilon emphasized also the need to amend the Republic Act 9333 which he claimed violates the Constitution because it desynchronized the ARMM polls with the national and local officials.

Under the bill, the synchronization of the ARMM elections with the 2013 exercise will save the government with P1.8 billion which may be instead used for the urgent social services and physical infrastructures needed in the region.

To fill the vacuum when the term of the incumbent ARMM officials ends in September this year, the bill proposed that the President shall appoint officers-in-charge who will implement reforms in the region marred with alleged elections fraud and private armed groups in the past.
Among major amendments introduced in the bill include the prohibition of the OICs to run in the 2013 elections.
The President will appoint the governor, vice governor and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly.
The bill also suggests the amendments of the Organic Act.

During interpellation, Estrada raised concerns over the possibility that the OIC might also abuse their powers just like what the Ampatuans did during its almost 30 years of stay in power.

The bicameral conference committee is set to convene on Tuesday to settle the disagreeing provisions of the House and the Senate versions of the bill.
Both the Senate and the House are expected to ratify the bill on Wednesday which is the last day of session of the first regular session of the 15th Congress.
The Senate decided to adopt the House Bill 4146 since it was only the House version that has been retrieved when Marcos’ committee on local governments voted to archive the two versions of the bill.