Hataman: ARMM’s appointed legislators are “reform-oriented”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 May) —  OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) says he is “sure” that majority of the  27 persons named to the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) are “reform-oriented” even if the names are dominated by and associated with traditional politics.

“Konti lang political names dyan” (there are only a few political names there), Hataman told MindaNews  in reply to a query on why the appointees are dominated by political families.

He assured that majority of the RLA appointees are for reforms. “Am sure majority are reform-oriented,”  he said.

On June 30, 2011, at the signing of  the law that reset the August 8, 2011 ARMM polls to synchronize it with the national mid-term in 2013, the President said, in Pilipino: “It remains vital that we maintain a steady vision of what we want to happen in this country. And what we want to do for ARMM is simple: we want their citizens to be heard; to do this, we are putting an end to the rule of political families who have fostered a culture of electoral fraud, and we will abolish their private armies.”

Of the 27 appointees, six are holdover RLA members (those elected in 2008 and who stayed on a holdover capacity since September 30, 2011 when the August election was reset), eight are women.

An initial research on the appointed officials shows that two are brothers of the incumbent provincial governors, one is the son of a governor, another is the sister-in-law of a governor, one is the wife of a mayor, another is the brother of a mayor  while the rest are relatives or allies of  incumbent officials. Civil society representation is minimal.

The profiles of the RLA members have not been posted on the ARMM website. The RLA  information officer, Sammy Peralta, told MindaNews Thursday that the newly-appointed members will  assume their post on Monday. MindaNews asked Peralta for profiles but he replied,  “no profiles.”

Only 26 took their oath of office before President Aquino in Malacanang Tuesday morning.

The President was supposed to have appointed 27 members of the RLA  — three for each of the eight congressional districts in the five-province region and three sectoral representatives for women, indigenous peoples and farmers – but Sulu’s first district had only two names based on the list Hataman’s office e-mailed to MindaNews late Tuesday evening.

Other listings included the name of Nedra Burahan, who, Hataman confirmed Wednesday morning,  was among the appointees.

Her absence at the oath-taking triggered speculations of a last-minute name-switching but Hataman told MindaNews that Burahan wasn’t able to make it to the oath-taking because “nagka-emergency daw” (allegedly there was an emergency).

The announcement of the appointment and oath-taking of the RLA members on May 8 came four months and 17 days after OIC Governor Hataman and OIC Vice Governor Hadja Bainon Karon assumed their posts, and exactly two weeks after the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels signed the “Decision Points on Principles” during the last peace negotiations in Kuala Lumpur.

Hataman and Bainon, who took over the ARMM on December 22, 2012, were tasked by the President to “reform” the five-province, two-city ARMM.

RA 10153, which postponed the August 8, 2011 elections in the ARMM and synchronized it with the May 13, 2013 mid-term national elections, also allowed President Aquino to appoint OICs to serve in the interim until the new set of elected ARMM officials takes over on June 30, 2013.

The appointed assemblymen and women are mandated under Sec. 6 of RA 10153 to “conduct a study and review” of RA 9054, the law that amended RA 6734, the Organic Act that created the ARMM “and submit recommendations to the Congress of the Philippines within six months from their assumption into office.”

The OIC legislators have until November to submit their recommendations.

The “Decision Points” of the government and MILF peace panels, provides that the status quo is “unacceptable” and that the two panels will “work of the creation of a new autonomous political entity in place of the ARMM.”

The appointees:

Basilan, lone district
Mr. Juni Ilimin, Mr. Jarah “Jerry” A. Hamja, Ms. Rajam Akbar

Lanao del Sur, 1st district
Mr. Ziaur-Rahman A. Adiong, Atty. Majul U. Gandamra, Atty. Rasol Y. Mitmug, Jr.

Lanao del Sur, 2nd district

Mr. Yasser A. Balindong, Mr.  Alexander B.M. Menor, Ms Sittie Norhanie H. Lao

Maguindanao, 1st district
Mr. Suharto Ibay, Mr. Arafat S. Kusain, Mr. Romeo K. Sema

Maguindanao, 2nd district
Mr. Bassir D. Utto, Mr. Khadafeh G. Mangudadatu, Ms. Rahima D. Alba

Sulu, 1st district
Mr. Mahendra A. Madjilon, Ms. Satrina Tulawie
(Hataman says the third RLA member from this district,  Nedra Burahan, did not make it to the oathtaking due to an emergency)

Sulu, 2nd district
Ms. Irene P. Tillah, Mr. Abdel S. Anni, Atty. Bhydir B. Sarapudin

Tawi-tawi, lone district
Mr. Rodolfo A. Bawasanta, Ms Dayang Carlsum Sangkula-Jumaide, Mr. Nurjay N. Sahali

Sectoral Representatives
Mr. Yasir Pangadapun Naga, Mr. Deonato Mokudef, Ms Samira A. Gutoc
The sectoral representation is provided for under RA 9054, a 2001 law,  but was not set up by previous RLAs. This is the first time the RLA has sectoral representatives.

Naga represents the agricultural sector, Mokudef the indigenous peoples and Gutoc represents the women sector.

The six holdover legislators appointed by President Aquino to be OIC legislators 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 while 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.

One of the appointed legislators is Nurjay Sahali, son of Tawi-tawi governor Sadikul Sahali.

Guiamel Alim, Executive Director of the Kadtuntaya Foundation and a member of the Council of Elders of the  Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society which has its main office in Cotabato City,  said, “I know very few people in the RLA,” he said, adding the rest are “sons and daughters of prominent politicians.”

Alim headed the screening committee for nominees and applicants for secretaries in the regional cabinet. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)