Aquino ready to talk with Marcos on ARMM poll postponement
MANILA, Philippines—Despite the odds, President Benigno Aquino III is still upbeat that his allies in the Senate could still muster the support needed to enact a bill postponing the elections of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and synchronizing it with the 2013 midterm elections.
According to the President, he is willing to “talk to anybody,” including Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to explain his position why the ARMM elections scheduled for August should be held together with the senatorial and local elections in May 2013 .
“The point here is that we should ensure that politicians will campaign at the same time and focus on their candidacies to ensure that whoever wins will really have the mandate of the people,” Mr. Aquino told Manila-based reporters who went with him during his state visit in Bangkok, Thailand, last week.
Malacañang previously asked Marcos, the son of the late dictator and namesake Ferdinand Marcos, not to “unilaterally” kill a pending Senate bill seeking to reset the regional elections.
Mr. Aquino reiterated that holding the ARMM and the national elections at the same time would insulate the regional polls from the influence of Malacañang and other national officials as what purportedly happened in the past.
He claimed some national politicians had been meddling in the voting of ARMM officials to cheat in the national elections. He even recalled how he and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero garnered only 13 and 11 votes, respectively, during the 2007 senatorial race in ARMM.
“So we just counted who among us got the most number of zero votes,” the President said in jest.
Mr. Aquino said his position on the matter did not change even after his aunt, Margarita “Ting-ting” Cojuangco, decided to run for ARMM vice governor.
Meanwhile, the President said he believed that a Pasay City court’s order for the government to pay $175 million to the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (Piatco) was a just compensation for the German contractor of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal III.
He said he already asked his legal team to study other legal challenges in connection with the government’s operation of the airport terminal.
The chief executive chided Piatco officials for claiming that the compensation awarded the German firm was way below than what they should receive from the Philippine government.
The President noted that the foreign company failed to comply with the original contract and that the tarmac it built was full of engineering flaws, such as uneven surfaces.
“We agreed on the terms and conditions. Did they do their part? So, what are they claiming? Fair is fair,” he said.