Press Release
May 15, 2012

Drilon sees new voters' list to address election frauds in ARMM

Senator Franklin M. Drilon today asked his colleagues to approve a senate resolution which he hopes "will finally put an end to frauds and irregularities in the conduct of elections" in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

"It is our hope that this joint resolution will finally put an end to frauds and irregularities in the conduct of elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and spare the ARMM of ignominy of being billed 'the cheating capital of the Philippines'," said Drilon as he delivered a sponsorship speech on Senate Joint Resolution No. 17.

The said resolution which he co-authored with Senator Aqulino Pimentel III and 17 other senators seeks to nullify the book of voters of the ARMM and direct the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct a new general registration of voters in the region has been approved on second reading by the Philippine Senate today.

"This twin move will complete the roadmap of electoral and political reforms in the ARMM which this government is presently pursuing with the help of Congress," said Drilon.

"There will never be a real election and real democracy in the ARMM if these poll frauds, election dysfunctions and padding of the book of voters are not decisively addressed," he added.

The resolution, which was endorsed by the Executive, is aiming for four important things which are necessary for the ARMM to be completely reformed, noted Drilon.

"For one, we will be taking away the 'command votes' of these unscrupulous politicians including their sense of impunity to commit unbridled abuses and lawlessness," Drilon said.

"Secondly, we will be taking away the padded book of voters and restore true democracy and accountability in the region because then only legitimate registrants and no longer will 'the ghosts and the birds and the bees' decide the fate of their leaders," he noted.

The said resolution, added Drilon, will also "set free the region from the bridle of political dynasties that have, for years, entrapped them in a morass of poverty, stagnation, neglect and abuses" and "open a new chapter in the politics of the region with the emergence of new, principled, educated and reform-minded leaders who do not rely on guns, gold and goons to be in power."

Drilon also noted the resolution allows the Comelec to suspend for the whole month of July 2012 the registration of voters in non-ARMM areas so that it can redeploy its personnel and necessary equipment for the re-listing of voters in the ARMM.

As to the budgetary requirements, Drilon said the Department of Budget and Management assured the availability of funds for the proposed undertaking. The Comelec is also advised to resort to appropriate alternative methods of procurement under the Republic Act 9184 in acquiring the necessary equipment and other registration paraphernalia to be used for the ARMM re-listing of voters.

"The amount necessary to implement 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," explained Drilon, "any additional funding requirement shall be charged against the contingent fund authorized under the 2012 General Appropriations Act."

Aside from Drilon and Pimentel, 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, Ramon Revilla, Jr., and Loren Legarda also signed the resolution.

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