Aquino gov’t has 10 days to shore up ARMM polls position, SC says
MANILA, Philippines—The Supreme Court (SC) did not issue a temporary restraining order on the implementation of Republic Act 10153, or the law cancelling the Aug. 8, 2011 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Instead, SC Spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said Malacanang got a 10-day reprieve to comment on the petitions filed by opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, PDP-Laban and Muslim leaders.
Marquez said all the ARMM-related petitions were consolidated.
“We have only given them (Malacanang) 10 non-extendable days to comment due to lack of time, because the election is already scheduled next month,” Marquez said in a press conference.
In separate petitions filed by Lagman, Macalintal and Almarim Centi Tillah, Datu Casan Conding Cana and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), they asked the high court to order the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to continue with its preparation for the ARMM elections.
PDP-Laban, in their petition, said they doubt the constitutionality of RA 10153 on the grounds that it obliterates the local autonomy of the ARMM by cancelling the upcoming 2011 polls, and by giving the President the power to appoint officers-in-charge who shall discharge the duties of elective officials until the next scheduled 2013 elections.
Macalintal, on the other hand, said giving the President the power to appoint ARMM officials, all of whom are supposed to be elected by the people, in effect makes the ARMM an extension of the Office of the President.
“It defeats its autonomous character since the OICs are not truly representatives of the electorate, but the direct representatives of the President to whom they owe their positions, allegiance and loyalty,” he added.
Lagman, on the other hand said 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.”