Postponing ARMM polls needs plebiscite – Pimentel

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/07 April) — Any move to postpone the election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao would require not just congressional approval but also the concurrence of the people of the ARMM via a plebiscite, former senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. today said.


“The drawn-out process of resetting the elections in Muslim Mindanao cannot be short-circuited by the passage of House Bill 4146 as it is enshrined in the ARMM Organic Law, which itself had been subjected to a referendum,” Pimentel said in a statement.


“It’s not as easy as passing a law to postpone because to be affected here is the very autonomous character of ARMM as established by Republic Act 9054,” Pimentel, the primary author of the ARMM Law, explained.


He said the election should push through in August because there is no more time to complete the process to postpone it.


Pimentel said budget could not be cited as a reason for the postponement as the Commission on Elections itself has revealed that it has a lot of savings.


“Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes had said that the commission has the P1.8 billion needed for the ARMM elections, for which it conducted a registration for new voters from March 21 to 31,” the former senator noted.


Aquino’s allies in the House of Representatives passed HB 4146 despite accusations it ran counter to popular sentiment in the ARMM.


The administration wants to synchronize the ARMM election with the 2013 national and local elections, with officers-in-charge to be appointed in the region in the interim.


The administration said the OICs will no longer be allowed to run. But Pimentel said the two-year interim period will still benefit the administration candidates.


A number of senators have thumbed down postponing the ARMM election, among them Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Edgardo Angara.


Pimentel warned that postponing the election will create problems at ARMM which will affect not only the whole of Mindanao but also the entire country. (MindaNews)