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HB 4146 hearing venue wanting decorum


The congressional hearing held at the Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School auditorium at San Roque, this city last Sunday, March 13, 2011 was attended by prominent politicians coming from the three provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi under the jurisdiction of ARMM. But the hearing venue was wanting in decorum and propriety if we consider reaching out and feel the pulse of the constituents in these Muslim provinces.

It would have been a substantial and laudable move if the congressional hearing was held in each of the three provinces on a grass root level direct from the true voice of the people. Vox populi Vox a dei, the Voice of the people is the Voice of God. The hearing is wanting in decorum and propriety, why hold it in a city not under the jurisdiction of the ARMM. Basilan is just thirty minutes travel from Zamboanga on a fast craft, less than an hour on a commercial plane ride to Jolo Sulu and so with Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

The postponement of the ARMM election is indeed a sizzling issue. Thousand people including high local government personalities from the three provinces took time to attend the hearing. Distinguish members of the Aquino cabinet and congressional members of the Committee on suffrage and electoral reforms as well as on Muslim affairs took turn and spoke on the merits of House Bill 4146. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City manifested his objection to the deferment of ARMM election. He was even addressed as the future senator from Mindanao. Hopefully, it would be, he deserves to be in the Senate. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who explained the rationale of the HB4146 is also a good timber as Senator.

There were other speakers invited who spoke on the brewing issue over the move to defer the August 8, 2011 ARMM election and install caretakers after the tenures of the incumbent elective officials end.

Before the start of the congressional hearing a group of protesters against the postponement of the ARMM election was directed to leave the entrance point of the school compound by the PNP anti-riot police contingent backed up by military elements. The police and military force positioned themselves to block the entry of a crowd of hundred supporters against House Bill 4146 bearing placards rallying on the non-passage of the legislative measure.

Some group members from the protesters were able to get inside the school auditorium. It was visible the protesters as well as supporters occupied the upper wings of the gallery. Likewise, it was apparent that the protesters and supporters of HB 4146 were identified by the T-Shirts they wore an evidence they were recruited by influential political leaders to show protest and support of HB 4146, to synchronize the August 8, 2011 ARRM election with the May 2013 National and Local polls and allow President Benigno C. Aquino III to appoint officers-in-charge to act as caretakers of the regional government.

Some sectors believe that resetting the election would give more time for the government to focus on the peace deal with the MILF. However, there are others entertaining the thought that postponement of election would portray P-NOY as a dictator rather than a member of a family treated as the icon of democracy.

There is no guarantee the government under present presidency and the MILF would be able to reach final peace agreement in two years time not even after the term of office of the bachelor president at Malacañang Palace.

The deferment of the ARMM election does not in any way give meaning to the peace negotiation process. In like manner, the synchronization of the elections in 2013 will not provide substantial effect to the attainment of peace in the ARMM frontiers.

Believe you in me, the island of Mindanao has been the venue of armed conflict between AFP troops and the insurgent yet, sad to say, the government could not win the war despite the modicum number of insurgent going against military force with sophisticated armaments back up by air and naval forces.

In the span of four decades, the military armed forces unable to neutralize insurgency in Mindanao. What an irony. War in the region will stay and it is unthinkable how the insurgents were able to sustain long war. Where do they get their ammunitions and other warfare. I suppose an eye-opener.

During the congressional hearing, no less than the three provincial governors of Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi: spoke and endorsed the postponement of election. A city mayor from Basilan was in favor of holding ARMM election as scheduled under its charter. Bravo and I tip-off my hat on his political stand. Somehow, though the hearing started late, it ended well.

I suppose in order to give substance and meaning to congressional hearing, it should be held in the provinces and invite members of the academe, the teachers both public and private, civil servants in government offices, businessmen, NGO, civic clubs and religious  groups. And hold it right at the capital of the provinces not here in Zamboanga City where big number of the audiences are Muslim residents staying here, except, some who came over from the island-province of Basilan. I repeat, VOX POPULI VOX A DEI.

Anyway, the debate on the congressional hearing, its nobody brings home the bacon: Till next issue, folks. Have a nice day. GODSPEED.

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