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Comelec sees ARMM polls next year

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) on Wednesday said preparations for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections would have to be rushed after the Supreme Court stopped Malacañang from appointing officers in charge in the region.

Henrietta de Villa, PPCRV chair, said the citizens’ arm of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was ready to help prepare for the voting.

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“With the SC ruling, we have to rush preparations and help Comelec the best way we can,” De Villa told reporters Wednesday.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the poll body was ready to conduct elections in ARMM should the Supreme Court order it.

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But Brillantes said the Comelec needed at least six months to prepare, which should be automated under the law.

“We have been ready all along. We don’t really have a choice,” said Brillantes.

Can’t be slow

“We’ll just read the specifics of the TRO, what’s there. We can’t be slow on this,” he said.

Brillantes said he and the other commissioners will meet to revive preparations.

“We will just revive our preparations that we initiated in January which was for August,” he said. “Now that it’s September, we will now prepare for possible automated elections in March or April,” he added.

He said the Comelec still has a P2-billion budget for the exercise.

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He added, however, that it would be “best” for the Supreme Court to decide with finality soon on the new law that postponed the ARMM elections and allowed President Aquino to appoint officers in charge.

The High Court, he said, “should decide on it before September 30.”

The Supreme Court ordered incumbent regional executives to remain in office on a holdover capacity until it decides with finality on the new law. ARMM has at least 1.8 million registered voters.

OICs proceeding

De Villa said PPCRV has opposed the move to postpone the elections.

“From the start, the PPCRV was not in favor of its postponement since it tinkers with the autonomy of the ARMM, which mandates elections there as fixed by the Organic Act of the ARMM,” said De Villa.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, however, said the selection process for OICs will proceed despite the Supreme Court ruling.

He said officials screening the candidates for OICs will proceed with a public forum at the Western Mindanao University in Zamboanga City on September 15. They will meet with seven candidates for governor and seven for vice governor.

“Based on the information we gathered, we can continue the selection process and we will resume tomorrow. We are on the homestretch already,” Robredo said.

He said the screening committee will also submit a short list of candidates to President Aquino but “appointments will not be issued pending the TRO.” With a report from Dona Z. Pazzibugan

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TAGS: ARMM elections, Comelec, Supreme Court
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