3 Mindanao govs want Armm elections to push throughBy Edwin Espejo Feb 23, 2011 4:27PM UTC
Saying there are no compelling reasons to postpone the elections in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), at least three Mindanao governors said they are “alarmed of the planned postponement” adding that the recommendation to defer the election did not went through due process of consultation.
Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez said the rights of Armm residents to participate in the electoral exercise should not be held hostage to any problems in local governance.
Mindanao Development Authority chair Lualhati Antonino earlier said she recommended the postponement of the Armm elections to give President Benigno Aquino III “enough space to solve the region’s (Armm) problems.”
She said “among the systems” that needed to be fixed in the Armm are auditing, budgeting, and human resource concerns.
But Dominguez said such problems should not in a way stand against holding the elections which is scheduled for August.
Dominguez on Wednesday held meetings with Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza and Sultan Kudarat Gov. Teng Mangudadatu.
The Sarangani governor said even the ongoing peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should not be reason enough to defer the elections.
The MILF is demanding the creation of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity which could encroach into territories defined under Republic Act 9054, which expanded the coverage of the Armm.
Gov. Mangudadatu said the government cannot afford to alienate residents from the national government appointing local officials in the Armm.
He also fears political fallout of the possible postponement of the Armm elections could spill into their provinces.
Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato share boundaries with Maguindanao.
The governor’s father, former House of Representative member Pax Mangudadatu is eyeing the Armm gubernatorial post.
The governor of Maguindanao is Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu whose wife and two sisters were among the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre in November 2009.
The principal suspect in the killings is former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. whose brother Zaldy was twice elected Armm governor.
Both Andal Jr and Zaldy are now detained in connection with the killings, along with their father Andal Sr, another brother and a cousin.
At least 196 have been charged for the killing but only 89 are now in police custody, ost of them police officers and government militiamen.
The Armm is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.
Acting Armm Governor Ansaruddin Alonto-Adiong became the head of the region in December 2009 after then Armm Governor Zaldy Ampatuan was suspended following his arrest in connection with Ampatuan massacre which left 58 people dead, 32 of them journalists and media workers.
Newly appointed Commission on Election chair Sixto Brillantes however said only the Philippine Congress could postpone the elections.
Brillantes also added that should Congress decides to postpone the elections, it should also include in the law a provision for the current Armm governor to hold office in a hold over capacity or as officer in charge.
Gov. Mangudadatu however expressed fears that if Congress decides to postpone the election, it could also insert amendments to Republic Act 9045.
Brillantes nevertheless said the Comelec is already prepared to push through with the elections.