Comelec needs 7 months to prepare for ARMM polls—poll chief
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections will need six to seven months to prepare for elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao should the Supreme Court order such balloting after the Aquino government scrapped regional elections scheduled for last month.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. made the statement in reaction to the high court’s temporary restraining order against the law calling off the August 16 ARMM elections and empowering President Benigno Aquino III to appoint officers-in-charge to run the regional government until elections synchronized with those for the rest of the country are held in May 2013.
“We have been ready all along. We don’t really have a choice because the Supreme Court says so, we have to conduct it. We’ll just read the specifics of the TRO, what’s there. We can’t be slow on this,” Brillantes told reporters on Thursday.
Brillantes said he and the other commissioners would be meeting to renew preparations, including the timetable, for the ARMM elections.
“We will just revive our preparations that we initiated in January which was for the August elections. Now that it’s September, we will now prepare for possible automated elections in March or April,” he said.
The Comelec chief added that the poll body still held the P2-billion allocation for the ARMM elections.
Brillantes said it would be best if the Supreme Court decided the case as soon as possible so that Comelec could definitively finalize or drop the preparations.
“My request to the Supreme Court is that they should resolve this. They should issue a decision because the TRO is still provisional. They should decide on it before September 30,” he said.
The postponement law, Republic Act No. 10153, authorized the President to appoint officers-in-charge to the positions of governor, vice governor and assemblymen whose current terms expire on September 30.
In its temporary restraining order preventing Aquino from appointing officers-in-charge, the Supreme Court ordered that the incumbent regional executives to remain in office on a holdover capacity until the issue has been resolved.
Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Election Systems Act of 2007 requires all elections to be computerized.
There are around 1.8 million registered voters in ARMM, which covers the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Sulu and Maguindanao.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.