DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 May) — Presidential appointees to the 27-member Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) assumed their post Monday at the ARMM compound in Cotabato City with the election of Lanao del Sur Assemblyman Rasol Mitmug Sr., as Speaker.
Mitmug, 31, was a member of the staff of Senator Teofisto Guingona III prior to his appointment as OIC Assemblyman of the 1st district of Lanao del Sur. Previous to that, he served as Deputy Executive Director of the Cotabato City-based Mindanao Human Rights Action Center.
Chosen Speaker Protempore is Dayang Carlsum Sangkula-Jumaide of the lone district of Tawi-tawi. Romeo Sema of the 1st district of Maguindanao is Majority Floorleader; Irene P. Tillah of the 2nd district of Sulu is Assistant Majority Floorleader while Minority Floorleader is Maguindanao 2nd district’s Khadafe Mangudadatu.
ARMM insiders told MindaNews the choice of Mitmug was made last week in a caucus shortly after the May 8 oath-taking rites of the RLA members in Malacanang and that Monday’s election was merely a formality.
The OIC governor, Mujiv Hataman, is from Basilan and the OIC vice governor, Hadja Bainon Karon, is from Maguindanao. ARMM’s three other member-provinces are Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Of the 27 appointed legislators, six are holdovers from the 6th RLA – those elected in 2008 and who had been sitting on holdover capacity since September 30, 2011 when the August 8, 2011 ARMM election was synchronized with the national mid-term elections on May 13, 2013.
The six legislators are now referred to as the “minority” while the 21 members constitute the “majority.”
On behalf of the 21 legislators, Mitmug read a nine-paragraph statement vowing to “push forward for the reform agenda in the ARMM, to foster regional unity, and to enhance better life for the Bangsamoro.” Mitmug read the prepared statement at the lobby of the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in the ARMM compound in Cotabato City, before they proceeded to the RLA for the turnover rites from the 6th RLA represented by former Speaker Datu Roonie Q. Sinsuat, and the first session of the appointed legislators at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 14.
The statement said they “commit to Electoral Reforms, consonant with the agenda of His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III;” are “unified” in the reform efforts of the President and OIC Governor Hataman, especially in “reform in governance, socio-economic development, and peace and security in the region.”
The statement also noted that they are “humbled by the responsibility and confidence entrusted to us by the national government” which mandates them under RA 10153, to “study, review and propose amendments for the Organic Act of the ARMM (RA 9054) particularly in this point in time where positive developments are made in the Peace Processes in Mindanao.”
The government and MILF peace panels on April 24 signed a ten-point agreement on “Decision Points on Principles as of April 2012” where they agreed, among other points, that the status quo is unacceptable and that they would “work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity in place of the ARMM.”
The statement also explained they would “continuously cherish the great efforts of our forefathers and the current self-determination struggle of our people for the enhancement of meaningful self-rule and to ensure better life for the Bangsamoro people” and that they would conduct “regular consultation and hearing among constituents and sectors.”
The statement acknowledged they are “racing against time” in conducting district and sectoral consultations, given that RA 10153 which mandates them to“conduct a study and review” of RA 9054, the law that amended RA 6734, the Organic Act that created the ARMM, provides that they “submit recommendations to the Congress of the Philippines within six months from their assumption into office.”
The OIC legislators have until November 14 this year to submit its recommendations.
The statement added that they are “strongly determined to be a functional Regional Legislative Assembly, aiming to effect change and timely passage of meaningful legislative measures.”
The six “minority” members are Khadafe Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Rajam Akbar of Basilan, Ziaur-Rahman Adiong of Lanao del Sur’s 1st district, Yasser Alonto Balindong and Alexander Bolot-Malawani Menor of Lanao del Sur’s 2nd district, and Abdel Sangkula Anni of Sulu’s 2nd district.
Khadafe is a brother of Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu; Ziaur-Rahman is a brother of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong and former Acting ARMM Governor Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong; Rajam is sister of the late governor Wahab Akbar and sister-in-law of the incumbent governor Jum Akbar; Yasser is the son of Rep. Pangalian Balindong; Menor ran as in independent candidate in 2008 while Anni was the running mate of Governor Sakur Tan who lost in the 2010 polls.
The 21 “majority” members are Basilan’s Juni Ilimin, Jarah “Jerry” A. Hamja, Rajam Akbar; Lanao del Sur 1st district’s Atty. Majul U. Gandamra and Mitmug; Lanao del Sur 2nd district’s Sittie Norhanie H. Lao; Maguindanao 1st district’s Suharto Ibay, Arafat S. Kusain, and Romeo K. Sema; Maguindanao 2nd district’s Bassir D. Utto, Rahima D. Alba; Sulu 1st district’s Mahendra A. Madjilon, Satrina Tulawie and Nedra Burahan; Sulu 2nd district’s Irene P. Tillah, Abdel S. Anni and Atty. Bhydir B. Sarapudin; Tawi-tawi lone district’s Rodolfo A. Bawasanta, Dayang Carlsum Sangkula-Jumaide, and Nurjay N. Sahali; and sectoral representatives Yasir Pangadapun Naga, Deonato Mokudef, and Samira A. Gutoc. (MindaNews)