Lagman: Just one vote to overturn SC decision on ARMM polls

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2011 02:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - House Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman is seeking to reverse a Supreme Court decision upholding Republic Act 10153, the law which synchronizes the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao elections with the 2013 polls.

In an 85-page motion for reconsideration, Lagman maintained the unconstitutionality of the challenged statute.

Lagman said it would take only one magistrate who voted with the majority to reconsider his vote, in effect reversing the close 8-7 decision of the full court. The same decision also allowed President Benigno Aquino III to appoint officers-in-charge while waiting for the duly elected officials.

Last week, former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. also sought a reconsideration of the decision.

The following grounds were raised by Lagman:   

  1. The unequivocal constitutional mandate for elective and representative ARMM executive and legislative assembly indubitably precludes the President's appointment of officers-in-charge (OICs) for ARMM elective positions;
  2. The President's power of appointment is limited to purely appointed officials and his power of supervision over ARMM officials does not include the appointment of elective officials which is an exercise of control not vested in the President;
  3. The Constitution does not prohibit the holdover of ARMM elective and regional officials pending the election and qualification of their successors as expressly provided in the expanded Organic Acts which fixed the terms of office of the ARMM regional governor, vice governor and members of the regional assembly.
  4. The prerequisites of supermajority of 2/3 votes in both houses of Congress and a plebiscite for the validity and effectivity of substantial amendments to or revision of the Organic Acts do not offend the Constitution and in fact they comply with the constitutional mandate guaranteeing autonomy in ARMM and foreclosing inimical and whimsical amendments which derogate autonomy.
  5. The requirements of supermajority and plebiscite have been previously approved by the ARMM electorate in plebiscites called for the purpose, and any disregard or reversal of such safeguards must have the assent or approval of the people in ARMM through another plebiscite.
  6. R.A.  No. 10153 introduced substantial and fundamental amendments to the Organic Acts which suppress the electoral will and dilutes autonomy so much so that the safeguards on supermajority and plebiscite must be strictly complied with, which mandatory requirements were brushed aside by the Congress in the enactment of the controversial statute; and
  7. The holding by the COMELEC of special elections in ARMM is within its legislated authority and the only legal and expeditious measure of upholding the electoral will and protecting the autonomy in ARMM which was both transgressed by R.A. No. 10153.

He said an "appointive" OIC is clearly not elective and can never be representative. The mandate of the appointee OIC does not come from the electorate but is bestowed by the appointing power, who in this case, is the President.

Lagman said the OICs are not going to serve for a mere short duration. They will discharge the powers and functions of the elective and representative principal officials of ARMM for almost two years or two-thirds of the terms of elective and representative officials.

He believes the appointment of OICs is a “wanton aberration” of autonomy since OICs are beholden to the President, accountable to the President and removable by the President, with nary the participation of the people in the constituent political units