MANILA, Philippines – The Senate approved on 3rd and final reading on Tuesday Senate Joint Resolution No. 17, nullifying the book of voters in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and directing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct a new general registration of voters in the region.
The resolution was fast-tracked from 2nd to the final reading after President Benigno Aquino III sent a certification to the Senate to urgently approve the measure.
To make it in time for the 2013 elections, joint resolution No. 17 directs the Comelec to suspend for the whole month of July 2012 the registration of voters in non-ARMM areas to be designated by the Comelec and re-deploy its personnel and necessary equipment therein to the ARMM.
Senator Franklin Drilon, one of the authors of the resolution, said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes assured the Senate that the new general registration can be done and that by December, a new list of voters for ARMM would be completed.
Drilon and co-author Senator Koko Pimentel hope that the resolution will finally put an end to alleged fraud and irregularities in the conduct of elections in the ARMM.
Drilon noted that the resolution seeks to reform the ARMM electoral process, including taking away the “command votes” of these unscrupulous politicians including their sense of impunity to commit unbridled abuses and lawlessness and taking away the padded book of voters.
The resolution, Drilon added, will also set the region free from the control of political dynasties that have, for years, entrapped them in poverty, stagnation, neglect and abuses.
As to the budgetary requirements, Drilon said the Department of Budget and Management assured the availability of funds for the proposed undertaking.
The Comelec is also advised to resort to appropriate alternative methods of procurement under the Republic Act 9184 in acquiring the necessary equipment and other registration paraphernalia to be used for the ARMM re-listing of voters.