CAGAYAN DE ORO City, June 7, 2011â€”The director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance of the Cotabato City-based Notre Dame University scored the Philippine Senate for postponing the August 8 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI, also the chairperson of the Kusog Mindanaw, said that what the Senate did in voting 13-7 Monday night in favor of the postponement of the ARMM elections was a â€œlethal blow to the little autonomy and self-determinationâ€ of the region.
Mercado said that what the Senate did was already an amendment of the Organic Act of the ARMM.
Republic Act 9054 or the Organic Act for the ARMM provides that the President only has supervisory powers and not control over ARMM.
Congressâ€™s votes in postponing the ARMM elections (the Lower House had earlier approved a bill cancelling the scheduled ARMM elections in August) also gives power to the President to appoint his hand-picked people to govern ARMM, which runs counter to the Organic Act.
Mercado said that the postponement of the ARMM elections is also a blow to the peace process as it gives license to the combatants that â€œit is business as usualâ€ in the region.
He, however, advised ARMM stakeholders to â€œcontinue to fight for autonomy and self-determination.â€
And for ARMM politicians, he urged: â€œremove your price tag!â€
Mercado congratulated the seven senators who voted against the cancellation of the elections, calling them â€œthe Magnificent Seven.â€ They are Senator Chiz Escudero, Senator Serge Osmena, Senator Joker Arroyo, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Edgardo Angara, Senator Bong Revilla Jr. and Senator Bongbong Marcos Jr. (Bong D. Fabe)