Press Release
July 25, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is undermining the plan to computerize the 2010 presidential election by taking a stand that she is in favor of postponing the August 11, 2008 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He said Mrs. Arroyo is making a mockery of the law by giving in to a purported demand of Muslim rebel groups to defer the polls due to concerns that they may affect the implementation of any peace agreement that both sides may forge.

Pimentel said the poll postponement that the administration wanted will put to waste the money, time and energy spent on the automation of the ARMM elections intended prevent fraud in a region that has gained notoriety as the country's cheating capital.

Based on an administration bill that will be filed by Malacañang's legislative allies upon the reconvening of Congress next week, the ARMM elections will be reset and held simultaneously with the May 2010 national elections.

Pimentel pointed out that the automation of the ARMM polls is being pursued in earnest by Congress and the Commission on Elections to prepare the nation for computerized elections in 2010 and prevent cheaters from manipulating the political exercise and frustrating the will of the people.

"But if the ARMM polls this year are shelved, all the efforts to put in place an automated electoral system, as mandated by law, will be put to naught. And if that happens, we may as well bid goodbye to the computerization of the 2010 elections," he said.

Pimentel, principal author of the ARMM organic act, also said it is too late in the day to reschedule the elections since Congress cannot possibly pass the corresponding bill within a period five days of session before the August 11 polls.

He said that while Malacañang may not be lying by citing the peace process as the reason for the poll postponement, there is no certainty whether the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will be able to conclude a final peace agreement and when that will happen.

"I think that the administration is making a wrong proposition by citing the peace process as an alibi. What if the peace talks bog down - as it did many times in the past - and a peace accord is not yet in sight? How long shall we wait to see a final peace agreement signed?" the senator from Mindanao said.

Pimentel said President Arroyo, instead of showing a cavalier attitude towards the holding of the ARMM elections, should be the first to resist pressures from insurgent forces to do something at the expense of the political process and the rule of law.

He said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front have no business dictating on the government on this particular issue since in the first place, they have declared that they are boycotting the ARMM elections.

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