Will ARMM polls proceed as scheduled?

Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews
Tuesday, 29 July 2008 08:12
var sburl5181 = window.location.href; var sbtitle5181 = document.title;var sbtitle5181=encodeURIComponent(“Will ARMM polls proceed as scheduled?”); var sburl5181=decodeURI(“http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4827”); sburl5181=sburl5181.replace(/amp;/g, “”);sburl5181=encodeURIComponent(sburl5181);DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 July) – Has President Arroyo abandoned her proposal to have the August 11 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) postponed in view of the developments in the negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)?

The President mentioned nothing about the postponement in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, where she also certified as urgent bills extending the agrarian reform program but no mention on the ARMM election postponement which is exactly two Mondays after her SONA.

Arroyo announced her endorsement of the postponement on July 22, five days after MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal asked government peace panel chair Rodolfo Garcia at the end of their talks in Kuala Lumpur to have the election postponed “in deference to the GRP-MILF peace process.”

In her very short statement on the peace process in her SONA last Monday, Ms Arroyo said she will “ask Congress to act on the legislative and political reforms that will lead to a just and lasting peace during our term of office” but did not mention what these reforms are.

On July 19, two days after Iqbal’s proposal, House Speaker Prospero Nograles told MindaNews the House was “not inclined to postpone the elections.”

“What’s the factual and legal basis to postpone? To postpone we need at least two weeks to process bill which will amend. Senate must concur. It’s not certified urgent by Palace. Too late to postpone in ordinary legislative process. Commission on Elections has not asked us to postpone. If they are not ready, they will. They didn’t ask us,” Nograles said.

But asked to comment on the President’s announcement on postponement, Nograles told MindaNews on July 22 that “as Lakas President, I shall defer to and consult our ARMM loyal allies, the Ampatuans. Should they advice that postponement will speed up the Mindanao peace process, I shall personally try to fast track move to postpone.”

The ARMM Governor is Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, whose father, Datu Andal, is the Maguindanao governor.

Nograles added that “as Speaker, I have called for Mindanao congressmen and women caucus in the House on (July 29), 2 p.m. after the SONA (State of the Nation Address) and we (will) decide collectively to postpone or not.

Congress resumed session on July 28, when she delivered her SONA and announced the bills she certified as urgent.

Asked if the President’s silence should be interpreted as her abandonment of the postponement proposal, Nograles told MindaNews evening of July 28: “her position has been consistent. Leave the decision to Congress. She won’t dictate what Congress wants or does not want.”

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said, “she asked Congress to enact laws in support of peace process.”

Dureza said there will be a “congressional meeting re postponement and MOA.”

“The bottomline is Congress decides,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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