Quoting Bongbong Marcos and Satur Ocampo to attack Ronald Llamas? Hmm, seems the Marcos-CPP-NDF alliance is still alive, kicking and well-funded.


ARMM polls deferment a wrong move

By Efren L. Danao


OOPS! Wrong move again! I am referring to the announcement of President Benigno Aquino 3rd calling for the postponement of the elections for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) scheduled this coming Aug. 8.

I recall that last year, the President opposed the move in the House and in the Senate, led by Sen. Bongbong Marcos, to postpone the barangay elections, saying he was against the extension of the terms of incumbent barangay officials. Oh well, on the ARMM issue, Malacanang is not for extending the terms of incumbent officials but rather, for their replacement by officers-in-charge (OICs) until their successors shall have been elected in the May 2013 synchronized election. Now, which is worse—term extension or appointment of OICs?
Senator Bongbong is joining several congressmen in opposing the deferment. Bongbong, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, said he saw no reason why the ARMM election should be postponed. Actually, the possible postponement was aired during the time of former Comelec Chairman Jose Melo who feared that they would not be able to lease the PECOS machines in time for the scheduled polls. Without automation, there will be no ARMM elections.

Bongbong said that this is no longer a problem since Comelec already has a savings of P2 billion, and the conduct of the ARMM election and the lease of the automation machines would cost only P1.7 billion. He saw a bigger problem in the chaos that would ensue if the elections for senators, local officials, barangay officials and ARMM officials are synchronized in 2013.

The continued hold of the Ampatuan family in ARMM elections is also no problem according to Bongbong, and I agree. The Ampatuans are no longer invincible. Mangudadatu defeated an Ampatuan in the election for Maguindanao governor in 2010. Unless, of course the real reason goes beyond Malacanang’s alleged fear of the Ampatuans.

Our Malacanang sources revealed that newly-designated political affairs adviser, Ronald Llamas, is behind the Malacañang position for postponing the ARMM elections and appointment of an OIC, and the person he has in mind is former Rep. Hajiv Hataman of the Anak ng Mindanao party list.

Based on a recent press briefing by Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, the Palace stand on the ARMM polls is not just idle talk. It is included among its 17 legislative priority measures. What? The deferment of the ARMM elections and the concommitant appointment of OICs is of higher priority than the Freedom of Information Act? Wow! Some sense of priority! This guy Llamas must be very influential with Malacanang!

Llamas was president of Akbayan, the party of former senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros Baraquel and Commission on Human Rights Chairman Etta Rosales. Former Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna had warned that Llamas’ appointment as political affairs adviser could affect the peace talks with the CPP-NDF. Obviously, Satur’s warnings fell on deaf ears.

Lacierda said that under the Palace-sponsored bill, the OICs to be appointed by the President would be people with no political ambitions and would be ineligible to run in the 2013 elections. Hmm, but Hataman is a politician! And he has relatives who are politicians. Will the disqualification include them also?

My sources from Malacañang said that having Hataman as ARMM OIC will give Llamas his own political kingdom. His position, though of Cabinet rank, has no portfolio and the ARMM will surely come in handy for the former student activist

Actually, there is a House bill, authored by Rep. Pangalian Balindong of Lanao dle Sur, seeking to reset the ARMM elections to the second Monday of May 2013. His bill stipulates that all incumbent elected officials of the ARMM shall continue to hold office in a “holdover capacity” until their successors shall have been duly elected.

During a House hearing jointly conducted by the committees on suffrage and on Muslim affairs, Balindong was quoted as saying that should Malacañang insist in appointing OICs, he would withdraw his bill and push for the holding of the ARMM elections on August 8. Balindong would rather have ARMM officials duly elected by the people than Malacañang-appointed officials with no mandate whatsoever.

Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong, a former justice secretary, said it would be unconstitutional for the President to appoint OICs if the ARMM election is postponed. I wonder if Malacañang lawyers knew this. But then, Llamas is no lawyer, and he has the ears of the President on political matters.

Happy birthday JPE
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will celebrate his birthday anniversary on Monday. Being born on Valentine’s Day is really apt for JPE who once sang “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” during a party with the Senate media. Hasn’t he been saying “Gusto ko hapi ka?”
Well, JPE has been making us happy so far.