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PIA Press Release

Palace remains hopeful ARMM elections could still be postponed

Manila (4 August) -- With only seven days remaining before the Aug. 11 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Malacaņang remains hopeful that the political exercise could still be postponed.

Malacaņang will stay the course "up to the last moment" to get the scheduled Aug. 11 ARMM elections postponed, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza in a radio interview.

He pointed out that a lasting peace in Mindanao is one legacy that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would like to leave to the nation when she bows out of office in 2010.

Government critics claim that the Palace is pushing for the resetting of the ARMM polls under duress, as it fears the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Stressing that no one, including the MILF, can threaten the government, Dureza clarified that President Arroyo's only reason for calling for the postponement of the ARMM elections is to ensure that widespread consultations are held via a plebiscite on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) scheduled to be signed Tuesday (Aug. 5) between the government and the MILF.

"Walang puedeng mag-threaten ng gobyerno," said Dureza, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) before he was named press secretary last June 16.

In the phone-patch interview on "Pilipinas, Pilipinas!" aired over Radyo ng Bayan, Dureza explained that the upcoming MOA - which is not yet the peace agreement itself - provides that a plebiscite be held within 12 months following the Aug. 5 signing.

The plebiscite is intended to find out whether or not the people in the areas covered by the proposed accord would like their local government units (LGUs) to be part of the proposed expanded ARMM, or a Bangsa Moro juridical area.

Dureza stressed that should the Aug. 11 elections push through, the newly elected officials will have a term of office of three years.

"Puede ba natin putulin ang kanilang three-year mandate? Hindi puede," he said, adding that the Palace remains hopeful that the Senate will support the move to reset the ARMM balloting.

"Kaya habang may magagawa (to postpone the ARMM elections), hindi tayo su-surrender. We will stay the course," he said.

"Alam niyo naman ang Presidente natin, she does the right thing whether it is popular or unpopular. This is one example na tumututok siya up to the last moment. We still hope that by Aug. 11, baka matulungan pa tayo ng Senado at makita nila yung mahabang punto kung bakit natin ginagawa ito.

"Sa tingin ko naman, ang mga senador natin, kung in-open mind mo sila, mai-intindihan nila itong lahat. We value the good judgment of the senators," Dureza said.

He added that as press secretary for just over a month, "nakikita ko up close ang kanyang (President's) di natitinag na katayuan, gusto niya reforms, long-term benefits" for the people.

"She is misunderstood now, pero pag na-communicate natin (that she is) very determined (to achieve long-term benefits), hopefully she'll be judged properly -- mai-intindihan (siya) ng mga tao very soon," Dureza said. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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