ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jun 1, 2011) – The holding of the elections in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in August is unconstitutional, Senator Franklin Drilon said, as lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are scrambling to pass a consolidated version of a measure postponing the ARMM elections set on August 8.
Drilon, principal author of Senate Bill 2756 seeking to defer the ARMM elections, said that the enabling law—Republic Act 9333—provides for a desynchronized election and is inconsistent with the constitutional mandate to synchronize local and national elections.
The administration-backed move to defer the ARMM polls for the purpose of synchronizing that election with the national and local elections is “actually in harmony with the intention of the Constitution to hold synchronized elections,” said Drilon in sponsoring SB 2756 which was earlier sent to the archives, but later revived to pave the way for floor deliberations.
“We cannot spend public funds for this purpose. The August 2011 ARMM elections must be canceled,” Drilon said.
Drilon also slammed critics of the bill postponing the ARMM polls, saying that the proposal does not in effect amend Republic Act 9054 or the Organic Act.
“Nowhere in the Organic Act is a specific date for the holding of regular elections prescribed. The only provision in the Organic Act that mentions a date for elections is found in the transitory provisions, Article XVIII, Section 7, which refers specifically and explicitly only to the first regular elections conducted after the adoption of the Organic Act,” Drilon said.
He said the bill setting the ARMM polls on the second Monday of May 2013 and the subsequent elections on the same date every three years “in no way amends, repeals, revises or changes any provision of the Organic Act.