Press Release
May 8, 2012

Drilon, Pimentel, 16 other senators move to nullify old voters' list in ARMM; ask Comelec to conduct voters' registration

Senator Franklin M. Drilon together with Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and 16 other senators on Monday filed a joint resolution nullifying the present book of voters of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in a bid to ensure clean and honest elections not only in the region but also throughout the country.

Joint Resolution No. 17, according to Drilon, principal author of Republic Act No. 10153 which synchronizes the ARMM election with the national elections, also tasked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to immediately conduct a new general registration of voters in all the municipalities and cities in the region.

Drilon also said that the registration of voters in the Visayas and non-ARMM areas of Mindanao shall be suspended until August 31, 2012 to enable the Commission to deploy sufficient personnel and necessary equipment for the immediate conduct of voters' registration in the ARMM.

Aside from Drilon, Senate Finance Committee chairman and Pimentel, Electoral Reforms and People's Participation chairman, the other senators who signed the resolution included Senators Jinggoy Ejercito 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.

The senators' move supported the recent pronouncement of President Benigno S. Aquino III who called for a general re-registration of voters to ensure clean and honest elections in the ARMM, noted Drilon.

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," said Drilon.

"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," he added.

Citing data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showing blown up population figures in the ARMM, Drilon said the bloated population figures may have been used by unscrupulous politicians for vote padding activities to ensure victory 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," explained Drilon.

He also cited an overstated 5.46 percent population growth rate in the region between 2000 and 2007, as contrast to the country's population which grew by only 1.89 percent. He added the poorest provinces Maguindanao and Basilan reported the biggest growth rates, at 6.6 percent and 6.44 percent, respectively.

"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," said Drilon.

"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," emphasized Drilon.

Because of the urgency of the subject, the resolution allows the Comelec to resort to direct contracting or other alternative methods to procure the necessary equipment and other registration paraphernalia.

The amount necessary to carry out the new general registration in the ARMM shall be charged against the savings of the Comelec including but not limited to the savings realized from the postponement of the 2011 ARMM elections; and any additional funding requirement shall be charged against the contingent fund authorized under the 2012 General Appropriations Act, the resolution stated.

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