ARMM Elections to Push through on Aug. 8 - Comelec
Byline: RICO C. NAVARRO, REY G. PANALIGAN and ARIS R. ILAGAN
With four days to go, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos announced yesterday that it is all set for the conduct of clean, honest, peaceful, and credible elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Monday, Aug. 8.
In a press conference at the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila, Abalos said the poll body is all set at this stage for the ARMM elections as he denied reports allegedly coming from the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) that the poll body is not prepared.
Abalos also rejected rumors that there will be a postponement of the election saying it will push through as the law provides.
"There is no truth to rumors of postponement or resetting of the ARMM elections. We all know that only Congress could stop the election and Congress is not entertaining any request from certain sectors to postpone or reset the election," Abalos said.
Abalos added that hundreds of police and military men had been deployed in the ARMM to avert terrorist attacks and prevent untoward incidents in the runup towards the polls.
Police have also prepared security for the foreign observers coming from the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the United States who will observe the conduct of the elections.
As this developed, the Supreme Court said yesterday the scheduled elections Monday in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will proceed as the Supreme Court decided last Tuesday not to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on two cases challenging the unconstitutionality of the polls.
The non-issuance of a TRO on the two ARMM cases was confirmed yesterday by lawyer Ismael Khan, chief of the Supreme Courts public information office.
"The petitions were on the agenda of the court last Tuesday, but no TRO was issued. Personally, I do not think the court would likely call for a special session until tomorrow," Khan said.
With the non-issuance of a TRO and the holding of the ARMM election on Monday, the two petitions challenging the alleged unconstitutionality of the polls would become moot and academic, he added.
The scheduled Aug. 8 election in ARMM was challenged by the Anak Mindanao party- list Rep. Mugiv Hataman and House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Rep. Abdulgani "Gerry" Salappudin.
The petitioners in the two cases said the Aug. 8 ARMM election is unconstitutional for violation of the Constitutional mandate on synchronized and simultaneous national and local elections.
"The 1987 Constitution provides for the synchronization of national and local elections on one date, the 2nd Monday of May, and not on any other date, the first synchronized election to all, as it did , on the 2nd Monday of May, 1992, and every three years thereafter conformably to the three-year term of office of national and local officials," the petitioners said.
They also pointed out that while Section 5, Article XVIII of the Constitution fixes the term of office of elective officials, except barangay officials, at three years, the Charter extended the term of those elected in 1988 to expire on June 30, 1999, to synchronize national and local elections.
Thus, they said Republic Act 9333 that mandates the holding of the ARMM election on Aug. 8 is unconstitutional for being violative of the constitutional provision on synchronized national and local elections.
Armed Forces probes
officers on Garci tape
By ARIS R. ILAGAN
Top officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Fact- Finding Board, now investigating the involvement of some senior military officersls in alleged election fraud during the May 10, 2004 presidential polls based on the "Hello Garci" tapes, yesterday said that they will recommend to the AFP leadership not to allow those under investigation to have a direct and sensitive role in Mondays elections in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). …