Yesterday, March 28, 2012 President Aquino approved in the notion of the P430-million financing that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is looking for to withdraw the voter’s list in the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) following reports that its population has been increasing over the years.
According to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, “Considering that ARMM reforms have been high in our agenda, I think P430 million will not be too much compared to the restoration of the credibility in the upcoming elections,” President Aquino just gave his nod.
Secretary Abad told the reporters in a chance interview that the money will be obtained from the original budget for the ARMM election proper that were postponed in August 2011 and also from the “discretionary funds” of the President.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., who were also present in the meeting in Malacañang have proposed the amount that will be needing for the “total annulment” of the voters’ list in the five provinces of the ARMM. In line with this it has been notoriously known for “command votes” in years.
Maguindano, Basilan, Lanao Del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi – Tawi composes the ARMM.
“Mr. President, we are going to seriously consider annulling the voters’ list in the entire five provinces of ARMM,” said Brillantes. With this, they’ve observed that this is the quickest way to cleanse the Comelec records of double registrants and other election-related difficulties.
“There will be total annulment of voters’ list of the five provinces. This is what we are going to do,” Brillantes uttered, ARMM officer-in-charge Gov. Mujiv Hataman proposed that the general registration be performed in May instead of June.
“We have reservations about pocket registrations because some sectors might just put political color into it. We prefer and we want to pursue a general registration, and hopefully to have a biometrics system in 2013,” Hataman alleged.
Preceding to the agreement of the P430-million funding, Hataman thought they would be needing at least P280 million to push through general registration and also that the regional government considers this can still be done within a week or two but the COMELEC said that 17 days would do.
Brillantes assumed that the amount was high as for the government wants to gain machines that will be used for the purpose, as well as organize and utilize personnel.
Brilliantes aforesaid, “We can have several machines, but if there are no election inspectors then it will just delay the whole process. An election inspector should be there to conduct the oath for registrants.”
President Aquino observed from the PowerPoint presentation of the National Statistics Office that the ARMM population has been “very substantial,” mainly when records from 2007 and 2010 years were compared, which were both election years.
It was presented by NSO that ARMM had a population of 4.1 million in 2007 but in reality it was revealed last 2010 that it was only around 3 million, or a disparity of 1 million in only 3 years’ time.
One of the provinces in ARMM showed that there was only a difference of 432,000 in the population figures for 2007 and 2010.
NSO articulated that the ARMM had a population of 1.6 million in 1980, increasing to 2.1 million 10 years later (1990), then to 2.8 million in 2000 and 4.1 million in 2007, but decreased to 3.3 million in 2010.
“The population of the Philippines and Mindanao, both excluding ARMM, were falling from 1990 to 2007, whereas in ARMM, it was not only growing, (but) it was growing at an improbable rate,” according to Budget Secretary Abad.
For many years, ARMM has been considered to be the bailiwick of any administration and has been general with so-called “command votes,” which the region is always predictably to deliver to any administration candidate.