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Two Senate committees have approved a joint resolution nullifying voters' lists in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an area known for widespread cheating during elections.
Besides voter list nullification in the ARMM, Joint Resolution No. 17 also suspends registration in Visayas and Mindanao "and whatever areas that Comelec will find necessary."
"By December 10, 2012, we will have a new voters’ list in the ARMM," Sen. Franklin Drilon said in an interview on Friday after the hearing of the Senate committees on electoral reforms and finance.
Parties aggrieved by the voter list nullification and suspension of registration on the two islands can still question the move at the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Drilon said.
The decision to nullify voters' lists in all ARMM municipalities was based on the testimony of a National Statistics Office (NSO) executive.
According to the testimony, sketch maps in ARMM areas failed to match with the sattelite images taken on the same area, Drilon said.
“The testimony was that the sketch map does not match with the satellite images. Ibig sabihin sa sketch map, may sinasabing may bahay rito, may bahay roon pagdating sa satellite image, wala yung mga bahay na yun,” he said.
Drilon also cited population growth rates in the region.
From 2000 to 2007, growth rates across the country reached an average of 2.04, lower than ARMM's 5.46 percent.
Areas such as Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan hit growth rates of 4.59 percent because of migration, Drilon said.
"But the growth rate in ARMM is higher than the national and even higher than the high growth areas in Luzon,” he added.
Testimonies of NSO officials are enough reasons to believe that voter's list in ARMM were padded, apart from the fact that the population rate was reportedly artificially increased so that areas could receive higher internal revenue allotments.
“Pati iyon (IRA) nasasama rito sa hindi magandang data,” Drilon said.
Drilon also clarified that the suspension of registration is only for non-ARMM and there will be no new registration for only one month.
“Only suspension of registration and only for one month, only for July, because wala namang question in those areas. But we have to suspend the registration in those areas because we need the personnel to be fielded in the ARMM so that by December 10, 2012, the work is completed,” he said.
Drilon also added that funding for the new registration in ARMM will be sourced from the over-all savings of Comelec amounting to P4.733 billion including P462 million which was appropriated and authorized for the ARMM election which was cancelled.
“At if any, kung talagang kulang pa, the President’s contingent fund can be tapped. So, that is why, the resolution addressed the issue of funding and timeline. So, the Comelec favorably endorsed the passing of resolution no. 17,” he said.
Last Tuesday, Drilon together with Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 17 signed by 16 other senators calling for the cancellation of the ARMM voter’s list.