Press Release
April 7, 2011


Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan today expresses his support for the bill postponing the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, saying a three-year hiatus would allow "reforms in the electoral and political landscape to work."

"The latest hostage taking and the ambush and killing of eight people, this even as the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao has yet to be resolved, shows why there is a need to deconstruct and rethink the approach to the autonomous region."

Several elected governors of the ARMM have faced graft charges. The ARMM was first created in 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734 in pursuance with a constitutional mandate to provide for an autonomous area in Muslim Mindanao. Despite being classified as autonomous, the region still receives approximately 98% of its operating budget from the National Government.

"While we recognize and respect the views of those who believe that the elections should push through, we believe that for the sake of genuine reforms in the ARMM, we must be willing to do things differently. Clearly we are left wanting in this failed political experiment. The Ampatuan massacre is one clear proof that the elections there have failed to benefit the people, thus radical change is needed."

Pangilinan says there should first be a resolution to the Ampatuan case and a true dismantling of private armies at the very least before an election process could be implemented, saying "If we cannot face and hurdle these obstacles then we cannot possibly have a government there that is truly representative of the aspirations of the people."

"We have had regular elections in the ARMM for two decades now yet, with all due respect, those elected by and large failed to provide the leadership needed to transform the region," Pangilinan adds. "We propose a three year hiatus so that we may have a window to implement genuine reforms needed to govern such a region. We would like to see an ARMM that will truly provide real meaning to autonomy and self-governance."

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