Press Release
August 3, 2008


As there is "no material time" left for Congress to postpone the ARMM elections on August 11, Senator Mar Roxas said the administration, in coordination with the COMELEC, should instead focus on ensuring poll safety.

"There is no material time left. Eight days is not enough to pass a law. The administration should not even attempt to railroad this because it has given no clear and acceptable reasons for postponing the elections," he said.

"Malacanang should focus instead on the most important concern -- ensure the safety of voters, candidates, teachers and other poll workers and volunteers, and, most importantly, protect public confidence in the new automated elections. Violence must not lead to a failure in the ARMM elections," he added.

The Liberal Party President pointed out that the COMELEC has made substantial preparations for the ARMM polls, where the automated elections--a fundamental reform to democratic governance that Roxas consistently supported--will be pilot-tested.

"By railroading the postponement of the elections without even giving any viable reason, the administration is asking us to dispense with the ARMM voters' Constitutional right to suffrage," he said.

"What they've said so far is that the postponement is crucial in finally concluding the peace talks with the MILF. The Senate has yet to see anything that will justify this reason," he added.

Roxas said the elections should push through regardless of the peace talks to strengthen ARMM voters' belief in the electoral process. The credibility of elections in ARMM have always been doubted because of repeated incidents of goon politics, cheating, and violence against voters and poll workers, particularly public school teachers who man the election precincts..

He said the death of teacher Musa Dimasidsing in last years' elections highlights the need to reclaim the credibility of elections in ARMM and in the country. Mr. Dimasidsing was shot to death by unidentified gunmen after exposing alleged poll fraud in Maguindanao.

Of the 121 persons killed nationwide in the 2007 polls, 63 (or 52% were classified as civilians and supporters, which include teachers. Of the 176 wounded, 116 were also of the same class. The 2004 polls was the most violent in recent years, when 148 of 189 (78% persons killed and 261 of 279 (94% persons wounded were supporters and civilians.

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