MinDA chair wants ARMM polls deferred

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 February) – Postponing the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is an “urgent need” and will give President Aquino enough space to solve the region’s problems, Secretary Luwalhati Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) told a business gathering Monday.

“Mindanao’s little brother, the ARMM, which has the poorest provinces in the country, needs the help of the rest of Mindanao,” Antonino said during the signing of the memorandum of understanding among power producers opting to adopt the internationally recognized Red Flag principles in their operations.

“I advocate for the postponement of the ARMM elections. (The postponement) is part of our advocacy for the development of Mindanao. It will give the President a chance to fix what is ailing the ARMM,” the secretary said.

Her remarks drew chuckles from the business leaders, who were there to discuss the impact of the Red Flag principles, which included among others, the company’s adherence to human rights and respect of workers’ rights in their company operations.

In an interview, Antonino said the President has given them marching orders to hold consultations to determine “what the people want”.

She said among the systems that needed to be fixed in the ARMM are auditing, budgeting, and human resource concerns.

“From our initial talks, local executives, the governors and congressmen are not very happy being in the ARMM,” she said.

Antonino also said one governor even wanted the ARMM to be abolished.

“The constituency is not too happy either, so, we recommend that the President exercise his supervisory power to fix the problem,” she noted.

The secretary said there’s still time to call for the postponement of the ARMM elections scheduled in August this year, adding she even dared to stray out of the topic in her talk with businessmen to deliver her point.

She said the ARMM, as Mindanao’s “little brother,” needs all the support that the rest of Mindanao can muster and that right now, there’s a need to fix the problems first before holding elections. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)