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To ensure clean and honest elections, at least 18 senators have moved to nullify the current book of voters of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
In a statement on Tuesday, Senator Franklin Drilon said they have filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 17 which seeks to nullify the voters' list of ARMM. The resolution also orders the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct a new general registration of voters in all municipalities and cities in the region.
The senators proposed that the registration of voters in Visayas and in non-ARMM areas of Mindanao will be suspended until August 31, 2012 to allow the Comelec to deploy sufficient personnel and equipment for the voter registration in the ARMM. GMA News Online is still trying to get the reaction of the Comelec as of posting time.
“A new registration of voters is necessary in order to achieve the much-needed reforms that the Aquino administration has planned for the country’s poorest region,” Drilon said.
“The electoral history of the ARMM shows that elections results in the ARMM are always questionable and tainted with anomaly and irregularity, chiefly because of the padded book of voters,” he said.
“The anomaly in the ARMM has national ramification because these ‘ghost’, fictitious and double, some are triple, registrants constitute the so-called ‘command votes’ or ‘controlled votes’ wielded by political warlords that could decide the winner not only in local but most importantly the national elections,” he added.
He explained that data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicate that bloated population figures may have been used by unscrupulous politicians for vote padding activities during previous elections.
“For instance, while the population in the ARMM stood at 4.1 million in 2007, a revalidation conducted by NSO in 2010 revealed only a little more than 3.3 million population,” Drilon explained.
He likewise cited a supposed 5.46-percent population growth rate in ARMM between 2000 and 2007, even though the country’s population only grew by 1.89 percent. He said the poorest provinces Maguindanao and Basilan even reported the biggest growth rates, with 6.6 and 6.44 percent, respectively.
In their proposal, the senators said the amount needed to carry out the new registration shall be charged to the savings of the Comelec, including the savings from the postponement of the 2011 ARMM elections.
The senators added that any additional funding requirement would be charged to the contingent fund authorized under the 2012 General Appropriations Act.
Aside from Drilon, those who signed the joint resolution are Senate electoral reforms committee chair Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Vicente Sotto III, Edgardo Angara, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Sergio Osmena III, Ralph Recto, Manuel Lapid, Gregorio Honasan II, Panfilo Lacson, Allan Peter Cayetano, Teofisto Guingona III, Francis Pangilinan, and Loren Legarda.
Drilon, the principal author of the law deferring the ARMM polls to 2013, said the move to nullify the list was a way of supporting the call of President Benigno Aquino III for a general re-registration of voters in ARMM to ensure clean and honest elections in the area.
"I join the President in his appeal to the Comelec to “ensure that the voters’ lists are actual and correct especially as far as ARMM is concerned,” Drilon said. - VVP, GMA News