Press Release
June 7, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara voted to uphold the right of the people of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to elect their own representatives during last night's marathon plenary hearing.

Angara was one of seven senators who voted against the postponement of the ARMM election scheduled for August 8, 2011. However, the bill was passed by a 13-7 vote.

He sided with the Senate Committee on Local Government which did not recommend the postponement of the polls after conducting research and consultation in ARMM.

Angara warned that cancelling the elections would send the wrong message to the Muslim community and the rest of world. He argued that the ARMM was made autonomous for a reason. Cancelling its elections and allowing the president to appoint the region's governing body over the next 22 months would be tantamount to depriving the people of ARMM of that autonomy.

"We postponed it five times already," said Angara, "as if the pledge of self-rule is something you can give with your right hand and take away with your left. That goes to the heart of the very grievance that gave rise to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and to the various factions now rising in Mindanao."

He said the recent unrest in the Middle East reflects the global Muslim community's clamor for genuine democratic representation, not appointed leaders.

Proponents of the bill claimed that the ARMM election is unconstitutional because it is desynchronized with the national elections, an argument Angara said is highly debatable and provides a shaky basis for passing the bill as the Supreme Court has yet to rule on constitutionality of the matter.

"Tonight the majority may have won the vote, but I'm afraid we may have lost the Muslim youth and those who feel deeply about the Moro people," said Angara.

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