Press Release
May 31, 2011


Conflicting timelines and details confused rather than convinced Senator Escudero to consider the bill calling for the synchronization of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the national elections.

In the last hearing on Senate bill No. 2756 (SBN 2756) by the Senate committee on local government today, Escudero was unimpressed when proponents of the ARMM poll postponement failed to explain the discrepancy in the election dates and the terms of office of elected officials thus defeating the purpose of the bill.

Section 2 of SBN 2756 provides that the term of office of all ARMM elected officials begins on September 30, 2013 and ends on September 29, 2016.

Escudero pointed out that if the bill seeks to synchronize the ARMM polls with the national elections in 2013, Section 2 does not make sense since the dates are not consistent with the provisions of the proposed legislation.

National elections will be done in May 2013 and all winners will assume office on June 30 of the same year. Their term, as provided by the Constitution, expires on June 29, 2016.

"I could not connect the bill's title to its purpose. Synchronization is a misnomer. ARMM officials cannot participate in the next political exercises after 2013 because their terms expire months after the rest of the elected officials," Escudero explained.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted that they indeed overlooked the ARMM election dates and the term of office. He said they will be amending the errors before the committee submits its report to the plenary.

"I hope they are not making this up... it looks like this is a trial and error endeavor. When you push for something as crucial as this, all the particulars and specifications should have been thought through before. Everything should be precise down to its minutest detail," Escudero said.

The senator also reiterated that the vetting process for the selection of officers-in-charge who will take over the functions of the incumbent elected officials should be responsive and be made public.

"Up until now, nobody knows who are in the vetting committee, what are the criteria, how open and transparent the process will be. While I trust the choice of the President, I am not about to give him a blank check to sign based only on general qualifications provided by a few because that is not the essence of democracy. Its essence is that leaders are appointed by the people and not by one person alone," Escudero pointed out.

Escudero said ARMM residents are entitled to know who their leaders will be and how these leaders are chosen and how the proponents arrive at the requisites for appointing the OICs.

"I hope the proponents of this measure will cater first and foremost to the needs of the ARMM residents who are the major stakeholders here. They should also back-stop the President by providing a rigorous set of criteria for its OICs and a vetting committee composed of respectable, competent people who also know and understand ARMM and its people," Escudero said.

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