House leaders propose new general registration of voters in ARMM

House leaders called for a new general registration of voters in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to ensure an honest and credible election in the region.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II have filed House Joint Resolution 29 calling for the annulment of the Book of Voters and an immediate general registration of voters in ARMM.

“To ensure an honest and credible election in the ARMM, the Commission on Elections has to initiate reform moves starting with the
purging of the Book of Voters of illegal and fictitious voters,” the Speaker said.

Belmonte said there is an urgent need for a general registration in the region due the presence of hundreds of thousands of illegal and
fictitious registrants in the ARMM which need to be deleted from the Book of Voters.

The election results in the region have been questionable and tainted with anomaly and irregularity, principally because of the padded Book of Voters, Belmonte stated.

“The practice of padding the Book of Voters has been resorted to by unscrupulous leaders to perpetuate themselves in power and give them a sense of invincibilitty to commit unbridled abuses and anomalies,” Belmonte said.

Gonzales said the anomaly in the ARMM has national ramification because these ghosts, fictitious and multiple registrants constitute
the so-called command votes or controlled votes wielded by political warlords that could decide the winners in local and even  national polls.

“The Executive Department has publicly expressed support to the need for the new general registration of voters in the ARMM,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said to enable the Comelec to field sufficient personnel to effect the new registration of voters in the region, the registration
of voters in the Visayas and non-ARMM areas in Mindanao should be suspended effective immediately until August 31, 2012, and the
personnel and necessary equipment from these areas be deployed in the ARMM for the registration.

Gonzales said due to the urgency and only for the purpose of acquiring the necessary equipment and other registration paraphernalia to be used in the new general registration of voters in the ARMM, the Comelec should be authorized to resort to direct contracting or other alternative methods of procurement under the 2012 General Appropriations Act.

“Congress has recently enacted Republic Act 10153 which synchronizes the ARMM election with the national election as a major step towards electoral reform in the ARMM and this Resolution will supplement and complement the said law,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales also cited the bloated population figures in the ARMM that suggest that voters in the region were padded.

Gonzales said the ARMM population in 2007 was reported to be 4.1 million contrary to the National Statistics Office (NSO) report that it only had a population of 3.3 million in 2010.

“While the country’s population growth rate grew by just 1.89 percent between 2000 and 2007, ARMM reported a population growth rate of 5.46 percent, with Maguindanao at 6.6 percent and Basilan at 6.44 percent,” Gonzales said.


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