Minority Leader asks Supreme Court to nullify bill postponing ARMM polls
MANILA, Philippines—House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman asked the Supreme Court to nullify Republic Act 10153 postponing the August 8 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
In his 76-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, Lagman urged the high court to order the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to continue with its preparations for the upcoming ARMM elections and to stop the implementation of the law.
He said “all of the constitutional and statutory safeguards for autonomy in ARMM have been violated and derogated by RA 10153.”
Lagman cited the following infirmities in the law:
1. Violation of the constitutional guaranty of elective and representative regional officials in ARMM with the deferment of elections for almost two years and the installation of OICs;
2. Unconstitutional expansion of the President’s limited power of general supervision over ARMM officials to the more potent power of control which is inherent in the appointment and dismissal of OICs;
3. Failure of the Senate to garner a 2/3 vote which is required by the Organic Act, as amended, to make valid the amendments introduced in R.A. No. 10153;
4. Failure to provide for the holding of the mandatory plebiscite for the ratification of the amendments contained in R.A. 10153;
5. Denial of the right of suffrage to ARMM voters for a long period in violation of the safeguard on periodic and popular elections; and
6. Setting aside of the holdover of incumbents until their successors are elected and qualified as provided for in the Organic Act, as amended, in order to give way to OICs.
He explained that being an amendment of the ARMM Organic Act, “its passage must comply with the mandatory requirements of 2/3 extraordinary majority vote and a subsequent plebiscite… Non-compliance with this requirement will render the amendment inoperative.”
Lagman also said that the postponement of the 2011 ARMM elections “in effect curtails the right of suffrage with a statute that was neither validly enacted nor judiciously anchored.”
“The postponement in effect goes against the preservation of democratic institutions for it not only deprives the voters of ARMM of their right to choose their regional officers periodically as scheduled but also authorizes the President to appoint officers-in-charge” to which, Lagman said does not reflect the will of the people.
Lagman also said in the petition that the postponement of the ARMM election was based on partisan and contrived motives, and not for patriotic and judicious reasons.
He added that “synchronization of elections and introduction of reforms can be pursued without cancelling the ARMM polls because they are not inconsistent with the holding of the previously scheduled August election, and the need for and efficacy of reforms can be enhanced by a fresh mandate obtained by newly elected officials.”
Lagman immediately filed the petition after President Benigno Aquino III signed RA 1015 into law Thursday morning.