ARMM Gov names OIC officials for "New Maguindanao"

“If only to avoid hiatus and for unhampered delivery of services to our constituents, the regional leadership has decided to appoint officer-in-charge for Provincial Governor, Vice-Governor and Board Members for the New Maguindanao Province,” Maguindanao Provincial Administrator Norie Unas told reporters Monday at the Provincial Capitol, a press statement from the ARMM said.

The ARMM Governor declared all seats vacant, including the post of Maguindanao Governor which is held by his father, Datu Andal Ampatuan,  because when the creation of Shariff  Kabunsuan was voided by the Supreme Court and returned back to Maguindanao,  it was noted that Maguindanao officials  may have mandate from their constituents but not from the voters of  what used to be Shariff Kabunsuan.

Appointed Officers-in-Charge (OIC) for Governor and Vice-Governor are Vice-Governor Datu Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan and  Mamasapano Mayor Datu Akmad Ampatuan, respectively. Board Members are Datu Russman Sinsuat, Datu Asnawi Limbona, Datu Nashrullah Imam, Bai Narriman Ambolodto and Datu Talib Abo Jr., for the 1st District while 2nd District has Datu Sarip Ampatuan, Datu Puti M. Ampatuan, Datu Nuali M. Ampatuan, Datu Tasmi Borquira Datumanong and Datu Abas Pendatun Jr.

The OIC governor is the ARMM governor’s brother while the OIC vice governor is his brother-in-law.

The Supreme Court on December 16 declared with finality that Muslim Mindanao Act 201, passed in August 2006 which created the province of Shariff Kabunsuan, is void because only Congress can create provinces and cities.

Atty. Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, ARMM Attorney-General, said in a two-page legal opinion dated January 16, a copy of which she furnished MindaNews today, said that based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, Shariff  Kabunsuan “does not legally exist and therefore, the previous Province of Maguindanao which was divided under MMA 201 is deemed revived and all the municipalities previously attached to the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan are likewise reverted to the said revived Province of Maguindanao and the municipalities attached to the created but voided Province of Shariff Kabunsuan are automatically merged again to form the aforesaid revived Province of Maguindanao and are once again rolled into one province.”

Sayadi said that “with due respect,” the reversion of  “Shariff Kabunsuan” into Maguindanao “does not make Governor Datu Andal S. Ampatuan, Sr., the Governor of the entire province of Maguindanao because he was not voted upon by the people of the defunct Province of Shariff Kabunsuan last 2007 local elections.”

Sayadi said  Datu Andal Ampatuan, the ARMM governor’s father and patriarch of the Ampatuan clan, did not resign as governor.

The ARMM governor was advised to step in and appoint OICs because “clearly, there is now a vacuum of leadership for the entire Province of Maguindanao,” Sayadi said.

“You may therefore appoint officers in charge of the Province of Maguindanao who shall act as caretakers of the Province until the newly-elected officials shall have assumed office pursuant to law,” Sayadi said.

ARMM Vice Governor Ansaruddin Adiong, also ARMM Local Governments Secretary, in a five-page on the matter, also said there is, indeed, a “vacuum in governance” and recommended to the ARMM Governor to name OICs. But Adiong was more specific as to when the OICs shall serve: “until June 30, 2010 or until the newly elected officials of the undivided or reconstituted Maguindanao shall have assumed office….”

Until the appointment of OICs, Datu Andal Ampatuan was serving his third and last term as Maguindanao governor. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)