Moro Leaders Push for ARMM Polls

Article excerpt

A number of Moro leaders are pushing for the holding of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on May 14, saying it is ''illegal and unconstitutional'' to postpone it again.

They said the oft-deferred elections for ARMM regional governor, vice governor and assemblyman can go on, but a plebiscite for an expanded autonomy should be held only after a new organic law acceptable to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is passed.

One of them, Sultan Macapanton Abbas Jr., general counsel of the Moro National Liberation Front (MLF) during the OIC summit in Qatar, on Nov. 13-15, 2000, and in Malaysia's meeting of Islamic foreign ministers on June 27-30, 2000, said MNLF Secretary General Muslimin Sema announced the MNLF's rejection of Senate Bill No. 2129 in Cotabato City during the 1996 peace accord's anniversary rites in September.

It may be recalled that Sema, concurrent mayor of Cotabato City, wrote a letter to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. informing him of the MNLF's stand on SB No. 2129, which Pimentel authored.

Abbas said the MILF has also rejected SB 2129, now being considered by Congress's bicameral committee, through Prof. Moner Bajunaid, former head of the MILF's technical committee for the stalled peace talks with the government.

The Maranao leader said holding the ARMM polls in May is acceptable to the OIC, although it wants a plebiscite to be re-scheduled.

Moro groups like the Muslimin Federation of the Philippines, the Ulama League of Cagayan City, the Majlis Ulama, the Islamic Council for Development and Relief, the Markash Nasrul Islam, the Islamic Confederation Center of the Philippines, the Muslim Business Sector, the Sulu United Arabic Teachers, the Ulama Council of Basilan, the Union of Muslim Youth, the Tacurong Islamic Center, the Sulu Farmers' Sector, and the Maguindanao Women's Sector, have issued a manifesto appealing to President Arroyo and her administration to go on with the ARMM elections this year. …