Upon the motion of Rep. Rodolfo C. Fariñas (1st district, Ilocos Norte), the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms passed HB 4146 by a vote of 23-4. The bill seeks to postpone the ARMM elections to synchronize with the 2013 national and local elections and for President Noynoy Aquino to appoint officers-in-charge to the ARMM elective posts of governor, vice-governor, and members of the regional legislative assembly.
The chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs and co-chairman of the Joint Committees, Rep. Tupay T. Loong (1st District, Sulu), walked out along with some members of his committee. Committee vice-chair Bai Sandra A. Sema (1st District, Maguindanao and Cotabato City) took over and proceeded to call for a vote on the bill, resulting in an 11-0 vote in favor of the postponement.
The voting–marked by the majority participation of non-Muslim representatives from Luzon and Visayas–has the earmarks of a railroading. The request (or motion) of the Muslim oppositors for time to conduct committee consultations with their ARMM constituencies fell on deaf ears. A surprising behavior from the majority…
The worrying effect of the exercise (and in fact, the whole scheme by the Aquino administration) is its setting aside of the current rules of the electoral game in the region and substituting in its place a naked struggle for Malacañang favor. One can argue that that has always been the case in ARMM since its inception–and he or she will be right.
However, there is nothing left upon which the clans (and all other electoral stakeholders) can anchor their claim to participation in democracy and decision-making.
The vote and the manner it was done represent a setback to the struggle for self-determination and democracy of the Moro people. It will have a deleterious impact on the quest for peace in the region and strengthen the argument for rebellion. If not handled delicately, there is a danger of political polarization that may well undermine the very mandate of the Aquino government among the Moro people.
The Aquino administration has not yet learned the lessons of the Moro issue. With the almost unstoppable momentum towards a Malacañang coup in the South, we have entered into an uncharted territory.