Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Friday said he supports a bill postponing the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, saying a three-year hiatus would allow "reforms in the electoral and political landscape to work."
"While we recognize and respect the views of those who believe that the elections should push through, we believe that for the sake of genuine reforms in the ARMM, we must be willing to do things differently. Clearly we are left wanting in this failed political experiment," he said in a statement.
Pangilinan pointed to the November 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao as clear proof that the elections there have failed to benefit the people.
At least 58 people were killed in the massacre, which has been blamed on a political rivalry between the powerful Ampatuan clan and the Mangudadatus.
Among those killed were the wife and two sisters of Esmael “Toto" Mangudadatu, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses or were mistakenly identified as part of the Mangudadatu convoy.
Pangilinan said several elected governors of the ARMM have also faced graft charges.
The ARMM was first created in 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734 in pursuance with a constitutional mandate to provide for an autonomous area in Muslim Mindanao. Despite being classified as autonomous, the region still receives approximately 98% of its operating budget from the national government.
"We have had regular elections in the ARMM for two decades now yet, with all due respect, those elected by and large failed to provide the leadership needed to transform the region," Pangilinan said.
"We propose a three-year hiatus so that we may have a window to implement genuine reforms needed to govern such a region. We would like to see an ARMM that will truly provide real meaning to autonomy and self-governance."