Tuesday, December 22, 2009

OIC gov supports early ARMM polls

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:03:00 12/22/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Maguindanao Massacre

Original Story: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20091222-243337/OIC-gov-supports-early-ARMM-polls

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao — The officer in charge (OIC) governor of Maguindanao has declared her full support for calls by several sectors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to hold elections in the region ahead of the scheduled May 10 polls.

“This is to ensure the conduct of clean and orderly elections in the province,” acting Maguindanao Governor Bai Nariman Ambolodto said in her first ever news conference at the provincial capitol here on Monday.

Ambolodto said scheduling advanced polling in the region, specifically in election hot spots that include Maguindanao, could prevent massive fraud and violence.

“This way the Comelec (Commission on Elections) could concentrate fully on their job if they held polling in the ARMM ahead with the rest of the country, next year,” she said.

More than six months prior to next year’s balloting, the first ever and yet bloodiest election-related violence shocked the world when the wife and relatives of a gubernatorial aspirant on their way to file candidacy documents were murdered along with 30 journalists.

Citing witnesses, police and the Department of Justice pointed at Datu Unsay town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. as the man behind the massacre. The Comelec is still studying the proposed advanced polling in the ARMM so the government could focus security details and poll-monitoring efforts in the region.

However, the two Houses of Congress should pass a law for such proposal to materialize.

The Comelec earlier said that if the proposal pushed through, they wanted elections in the ARMM done a month before the rest of the country next year.

The poll watchdog National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) is also urging the Comelec to hold polls in the ARMM a week ahead of the May 10, 2010 schedule to guarantee an honest, orderly and peaceful election in the region.

Ambolodto said two Army brigades were currently stationed in Maguindanao due to a prevailing political crisis brought about by the November 23 massacre of civilians and journalists in Barangay (village) Salman, Ampatuan town of the province.

“With the heavy presence of soldiers in the province, I believe that voters would be more convinced of their safety when they go out to exercise their right of suffrage,” she said.

Ambolodto, who assumed office on December 15, said she was busy keeping on track the civilian leadership in the province.

“Normalization of the provincial government operations through the help of various government agencies may take some time but I am on track,” she said.

She said she would hold office in the provincial capitol.

Ambolodto was named by Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno as acting vice governor replacing Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. who was arrested following the November 23 massacre.

But Puno designated her as OIC while a special select committee is yet to name an acting provincial governor. Edwin O. Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

Original Story: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/regions/view/20091222-243337/OIC-gov-supports-early-ARMM-polls

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