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COMMENTARY: Let us allow the ARMM elections to push through as scheduled. Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan

( Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan explains her vote against House Bill 4146) on 22 March 2011)

Mr. Speaker, this representation votes NO to HB 4146 on the basis that it is unconstitutional and it infringes on the right of ARMM voters to choose their leaders.

Postponing the ARMM elections from August 8, 2011 to May 2013 and appointing OICs in the stead of elected officials mocks the supposed autonomy granted to the region by virtue of the Philippine Constitution and Republic Act 6734 and 9054, also known as the Organic Act providing for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

The move to postpone elections in ARMM calls for the introduction of amendments to the Organic Act, a move that would require, not the concurrence of members of the House of Representatives but a plebiscite reflecting the will of ARMM residents. This is explicitly stated in Article XVII, Section 3 of the Organic Act.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, HB 4146 effectively disenfranchises some 1.5M voters in all of ARMM’s 2,470 barangays. It is an outright violation of their right to suffrage. Appointing OICs instead of allowing ARMM voters to choose their leaders in a democratic process insults the people’s capability for discernment. No government body, institution and no President should undermine a people’s right to choose their leaders.

If the supposed intent of HB4146 is to institute reforms in ARMM, then let us allow duly elected government officials to do so. More than appointed government officials, those who enjoy the people’s mandate are always in the best position to implement reforms. Moreover, there is no better way to conduct consultations with the people of ARMM than through elections.

Mr. Speaker, mga kapwa ko kinatawan, ako po ay taga Mindanao. Batbat ng suliranin, digmaan at kahirapan ang aming lugar, lalo na ang ARMM. Subalit dapat nating maunawaan na ang higit na makapagpapasya sa kinabukasan ng Mindanao at ng ARMM ay ang mamamayan nito. Kilalanin natin at igalang ang karapatan ng mamamayan ng Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Let us allow the ARMM elections to push through as scheduled.

I vote NO to HB 4146. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews).

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