Arroyo cases won’t delay ruling on petition vs ARMM polls postponement – Pimentel III

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/06 December) – The cases filed by former president and now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before the Supreme Court will neither delay nor sideline the resolution of the petition questioning the constitutionality of Republic Act 10153, the law postponing this year’s elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and synchronizing it with the elections in 2013, a lawmaker assured.

“There is a system in the courts. They should not worry because the Supreme Court will always find time to resolve all cases lodged to it. There is a system in the courts. Let’s just wait for its decision,” Sen. Aquilino Martin Pimentel III said in a phone interview Monday.

Pimentel III was referring to the Reform the ARMM Now (Ran) Coalition, which views RA 10153 as the cornerstone of reforms in the region.

President Benigno S. Aquino III signed RA 10153 on June 30 this year. The law gives him the power to appoint officers-in-charge to replace the officials elected in 2008 whose terms expired on September 30.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) had started screening applicants to the OIC posts but stopped after the petition was filed before the SC. On September 13, the High Tribunal issued a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the law, and on October 8, it ruled that the law conforms to the Constitution.

But on November 5, parties opposing the law, among them former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. filed a motion for reconsideration.

The Ran Coalition called the motion “frivolous and dilatory,” noting it had been a month since the filing of the motion for reconsideration.

For his part, the younger Pimentel said that the motion for reconsideration his father filed and the petitions filed by Arroyo will not delay the resolution of the question of the law’s constitutionality.

“Calling MRs as frivolous and dilatory is standard reaction. Let’s be patient,” Pimentel III said.

In a statement over the weekend, Ran Coalition chair Salic Ibrahim said they were worried that the “flurry of cases brought before the SC by the former President is sidelining the prompt resolution of the constitutionality issue of RA 10153” and that the SC “should decide on the issue on equal terms with other urgent matters like the cases filed against former president Arroyo.”

The former President has pending motions lodged before the High Tribunal, which includes seeking for the reversal of her arrest warrant for an election sabotage case filed by the Commission on Elections.

“We do not want to think the Supreme Court is hostaging [sic] the ARMM election synchronization decision in favor of a swifter action on the motions filed by former president Arroyo. But please give us a reason to think that the judicial process is not ignoring the ARMM. Every day of delay is precious time for reform lost,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim is referring to a roadmap drafted by the DILG which set the ARMM reform schedule to begin on October 1 that supposedly would coincide with the takeover of leadership by an interim set of officials.

This roadmap toward reforms in the ARMM, Ibrahim said, is dependent on the assumption that the scheduled August 8 regional elections are postponed and synchronized with the national election on 2013.

The ARMM officials elected in 2008 are currently serving in a holdover capacity. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)