Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MNLF calls on Arroyo to suspend ARMM polls

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- Notwithstanding their differences, contending factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) want the August polls in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) postponed.

The ARMM polls pit incumbent Governor Zaldy Ampatuan against several Moro politicians, including Indanan, Sulu Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, the main negotiator for the release of a kidnapped ABS-CBN news crew in Sulu.

Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, who chairs one of the MNLF factions, called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to postpone the ARMM elections, saying the government has yet to fully implement the 1996 peace deal it signed with the erstwhile secessionist organization. MNLF founder Nur Misuari, who leads the other MNLF faction, is also supportive of the poll postponement.

Sema said Arroyo should instead appoint a caretaker from the MNLF's Executive Oversight Committee once the term of office of all incumbent ARMM officials end.

"I believe that the ARMM government plays a key role in peace and development in Mindanao, that's why we are asking the President to postpone it. It would be a chance for her too to work out for the full implementation of our final accord as well as work for the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," he said.

However, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it has taken another step to ensure that the August elections will be free of controversy by replacing ARMM election director Rey Sumalipao.

An advisory said Sumalipao will be replaced by lawyer Dennis Ausan. Sumalipao will be assigned to Manila.

Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, ARMM police chief, said Sumalipao had called him on Monday and informed him of the changes.

He said Ausan will be calling a conference with the police, the military and other groups in Zamboanga City next week.

James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said the ARMM elections will push through as scheduled and that they are now in the final stages of preparation.

"We believe that the automation of the polls is a significant step towards eradicating cheating in elections. Although we do not claim that automation will solve all election-related problems, it is an important first step towards eventually achieving the kind of honest, orderly, and peaceful elections the Filipino deserves. And the ARMM election is an essential and indispensable part of this process," Jimenez said.

Jimenez also downplayed the cutting off of power in Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan, saying the vote-counting machines will run on batteries.

The National Transmission Corp. has decided to stop supplying electricity to the two provinces because of the failure of Maguindanao Electric Coop. (Magelco) to pay its obligations. (Jeoffrey Maitem, Charlie SeƱase)

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