Congressman urges Senate not to ratify ARMM postponement bill

Posted By: Chris On:

CAGAYAN DE ORO City, March 25, 2011—A lawmaker from this city’s second legislative district urged the Senate Thursday not to ratify the bill seeking the postponement of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which the House passed on its last session day before the Lenten break.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he hoped that the senators will not be swayed by party loyalties when House Bill 4146 reached the Upper Chamber of the Philippine Congress for deliberation.

Failure of passage in the Senate means the ARMM elections will push through as scheduled on August 2011.

“If the Senate will pass the measure, we have no other recourse but to bring the matter to the Supreme Court because HB 4146 clearly violates the Constitution and the Organic Act of the ARMM,” he told this reporter.

The Lower House passed HB 4146 on Wednesday on third and final reading and gave President Aquino blanket authority to appoint loyal subordinates as officers-in-charge of the ARMM, which Rodriguez said smacked of double-talk since Aquino had promised the Filipino nation of reform and good governance.

“The Organic Act of the ARMM specifically states that the President only has supervisory powers over ARMM and not control. And the President’s appointment of OICs in the region is a clear violation of this Act,” he stressed.

“The Constitution and the Organic Act clearly stipulate that the President’s power over the ARMM is limited to general supervision,” he added.

He also said that HB 4146 is an amendment to the Organic Act, which should be done through a plebiscite.

As provided in the Organic Act, any amendment to it must be approved by two-thirds of the members of the Lower House and Senate, voting separately. Then a plebiscite to ratify the decision of the House and Senate, he pointed out.

“But there is no plebiscite in this case. In short, however way we look at the bill, it is a clear violation of the Constitution and Organic Act of the ARMM,” he said.

“Now it is up to the Senate to turn this measure down,” he added.

When asked if the Senate still has time to deliberate on the issue given that it will constitute itself as an impeachment court when session opens after Lent, Rodriguez simply said he has “faith in the senators.”

However, if the senators will put aside the issue, Rodriguez urged Muslim congressmen, especially those who hail from the ARMM to go to the Supreme Court.

Following Wednesday’s triumph of the Yellow Congressmen and their allies, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said HB 4146 converts “the ARMM into the Autonomous Region of Malacañang and its Minions.” (Bong D. Fabe)

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