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To have or Not to have Elections in ARMM PDF Print E-mail
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Richard de Silva
May 27, 2011

(MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES) The Local Government Committee of the Senate will have one more consultation/hearing next week (May 31, 2011) on Senate Bill (SB) 2756 and House Bill (HB) No. 4146 before Congress adjourns Sine Die on June 9, 2011.  It is definitely a race against time with the Commission on Election (COMELEC) declaring that the ARMM election on August 8, 2011 will be done manually if the Senate fails to decide on the postponement by the end of May.

                Malacañang is exerting more pressure on the Senate because it desperately wants to postpone the August 8, 2011 ARMM elections in order to make sure that reforms in the Region will be in place in time for 2013 when the Regional elections will be synchronized with the National elections during that year.  Malacañang  believes that these needed reforms can be best done with its appointed officials from Executive to the Legislative bodies of the Autonomous Region.

                The COMELEC had already repeatedly postponed the dates of filing of the Certificates of Candidacy for the August 8, 2011 elections and the May 25, 2011 extended deadline was really the last date to accommodate the filing of the Administration’s favored candidate.

                As of this writing, Senator Bongbong Marcos, Jr., the Chair of the Committee on Local Government is standing strong for broader consultations with stakeholders because according to him “it was the bill’s “assault” on the ARMM voters’ rights to suffrage and “disregard” of the region’s autonomy that has raised the alarm in the Committee over the bill that essentially scraps the scheduled elections in August in favor of allowing Malacañang  to just simply handpick their next leaders.”

                When the deadline of the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoCs) was finally over by midnight of May 25, 2011, fourteen (14) candidates for ARMM Governor and sixteen (16) candidates for the Vice-Governor have filed their CoCs.  And surely, the Administration’s favored candidate is on the list. But with no formal endorsement as of this time because of several reasons that only the Administration can believe just like their reasons for its attempt to postpone the elections.

                But as of this time, the Administration is still hoping that within a few days (8 days to be exact before Congress adjourns), the Senate can still change its mind and approves the SB 2756 and with HB 4146. They can be merged so that the August 8, 2011 ARMM elections will be postponed and synchronized it to the 2013 National Elections and the Administration can appoint its favorite people to manage and administer ARMM until 2013.

Contradicting itself; The Beginning of Self-Destructions…

                The situation which the Administration is putting itself makes the COMELEC’s position of postponing the elections becoming obvious in accommodating the wishes of the Administration. It (COMELEC) has to put an end to the postponement syndrome without giving clear reasons for it. Hence, on the midnight of May 25, 2011, the Administration has to let its favorite filed his COC without a running mate and without official endorsement but worst by doing so it (administration) clearly contradicts itself.

                Months ago, the PNoy Administration through its various advisers have been saying that there is a need to postpone the August 2011 ARMM elections because reforms should be in place first before any genuine elections can be held.  Simply put, PNoy and his advisers believe that ARMM and its people at this period  is not capable of electing its officials because they are not prepared and reforms can only be done by the Administration’s appointed officials who, will make sure that ARMM is ready for elections in 2013.  According to various Administration’s spokepersons, advisers and their civil society movements during this period the influence of Ampatuan-type of command votes and warlordism will be eliminated, the ARMM will be audited so that corruption will be eliminated and even prepare for the GPH-MILF Comprehensive Compact Peace pact which accordingly will be signed before or during the reign of its appointed officials.

                The Administration strongly believes that these noble reasons are enough to make the people in ARMM not see its dictatorial policy and manipulation.

                In Fact, the Administration of PNoy is so engrossed in believing its own reasons that they even forget that people in the Arab world and North Africa are rising to oust their own dictators and build their democratic institutions.

                And now, why make this opportunistic move to let its favorite politician file his COC at the last minute (although without official endorsement) when it strongly believes that no meaningful elections can be held in ARMM now? What if the Senate approves with some modifications SB 2756?

                Did the Administration have its own experience on the “Road to Damascus”? Does the Administration of PNoy now believe that reforms can best be performed with the mandate of the people in ARMM? Will the elections of ARMM in August 8, 2011 (if it pushes through) be clean and meaningful and where the playing field is level?

Agonizing Moments…

                As the days are fast approaching, the nth reset date of the COMELEC for filing of the COCs and with no positive sign of changing the Senate’s mind through its Committee on Local Government, the Administration of PNoy and his advisers are trying their best to prepare for Plan B – that is if the August ARMM elections push through, how would they prepare?  President Noynoy Aquino himself had said days before when asked about the Administration slate for the ARMM elections that, it is awkward for the Administration to prepare for a slate for the ARMM elections because it wants its postponement.”

                But since the Administration’s favorite politician has to face a level playing field in August 8, 2011 elections, they have to do overtime to project its favorite because he is unknown entity in the ARMM.  One has to recall that he did not even win in the 2010 elections in his own  province but one thing prominent to this person is he got his wife appointed (midnight appointment) by GMA as Executive Director of a government agency. HIs only qualification is being a billiard buddy of PNoy and a “friend” of PNoy’s Political Adviser.

                In such awkward situation, not even the not-so secret endorsement of the Administration had convinced a prominent politician in Lanao Sur to agree to be a running mate of the Administration’s favorite. He (Lanao Sur politician) simply asked the Administration’s favorite if he can deliver votes from his island province because in Lanao del Sur he can easily deliver votes for the tandem.  And since the Administration’s favorite could not answer in positive then he had to file his COC without a vice governor.

                It is very important to note, that some close advisers/secretaries e.g. Sec. Robledo of DILG had asked the Administration’s favorite to just slide down to the Vice Governor position but the favorite has to ask PNoy to retain him as candidate for Governor at the day before the final deadline set by the COMELEC for filing the COC. And so it was, and so it is… and so it will be...

                In the coming days and months, one can still expect political realignment just before the elections and after 8 days when it will be final that the elections will not be postponed, we can expect the Administration to show its muscles to support its favorite candidate.  Government machineries will be asked to tow the line of the PNoy Administration.  Even these well-known proponents for the  postponement (like the civil society movements created by the Administration favorites to support his appointment as ARMM Governor) of the ARMM elections will be unashamedly proclaiming that reforms indeed can be achieved in the ARMM if people will vote for their candidate/s.  The practice of traditional politics by PNoy Administration will be clearly manifested in these elections. Worst is it will be done by people who are now in the Administration as part of the ruling coalition who were voted by the people because of their anti-trapo and anti-corruption campaign platforms.

ARMM – A Continuing Failure…

                With these developments, it is not hard for people to understand why ARMM has been a failure. The way the PNoy Administration is acting now makes people know why there are people like the Ampatuans and soon why there will be billions stolen and mansions build and another “Maguindanao massacre” unfolded right in the very eyes of the people. It will not be hard to understand why the Moro people and soon the others as well (Indigenous People) have been fighting for their inherent right to self-determination. And if the current Liberation Front will sign a “Peace Agreement” with the PNoy Administration during its term, it will not be impossible to see other groups rising up again to fight for the same struggle only that it can be more extreme and fundamentalist. And people will understand the role of PNOy and his so-called advisers because their hands will be full of blood and people will surely not forget.

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