PNoy decides: it’s Mujiv for ARMM Governor

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/26 September) —  President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has announced to the five provincial governors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman is his choice for the top post in next year’s election.

Aquino announced his choice Monday afternoon, during a meeting he called for in Malacanang. with governors  Jum Akbar of Basilan,  Mamintal Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur, Esmael Magudadatu of Maguindanao,  Abdusakur Tan  of Sulu and Sadikul Sahali of Tawi-tawi – all of them recent converts to the Liberal Party.

Tan had earlier expressed interest to run for the top ARMM post.

“Gusto ni PNoy si Mujiv. (The President wants Mujiv). No hard feelings. Suportado natin ang gusto ni PNoy. (We support the President’s wish). Maybe that is what is best for us,” Tan told MindaNews in a text message Tuesday.

“Yes, Mujiv gihapon” (Yes, it’s still Mujiv), said Mangudadatu.  “Mujiv,” Sahali said.

President Aquino referred to Hataman in his State of the Nation Address last July as “certified ghostbuster,” saying he stopped the practice of  “ghost schools” and “ghost teachers” and “ghost projects,” among others, in the ARMM.

“Now the soul of the ghosts in voters list can rest in peace. This is why, to OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman, we can say to you: you are indeed a certified ghost buster,” the President said.

Hataman, former three-term party-list representative of Anak Mindanaw (AMin), assumed the post of OIC Governor on December 22, 2011 by virtue of RA 10153, which canceled the August 8, 2011 and synchronized it with the national mid-term polls on May 13, 2013. The same law authorized the President to appoint OICs to serve until a new set of officials shall have been elected and taken over by noon of June 30, 2013.

Although he promised not to run for an elective post in 2013 when he took over as OIC Governor,  Hataman told MindaNews on Tuesday:  “who am I to say no to the President and the boss-people?”

Hataman said he was informed the President received several letters “from CSOs (civil society organizations) especially peace advocates” for him to continue the reforms his administration has started by seeking the people’s mandate in 2013.

On Tuesday, representatives of civil society organizations in the ARMM met in a restaurant in Cotabato City to push for Hataman’s candidadcy in 2013. The groups said 18 months — the period within which Hataman is OIC —  would not be enough to totally reform the “rotten system” he inherited.

Running mate

In urging Hataman to run, the groups, among them the Consortium for Bangsamoro Civil Society, Bangsamoro Women Foundation for Peace and Development, Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace, said they don’t want “traditional politicians” to make a return and govern the regional government.

The groups earlier launched a signature campaign urging Hataman to run.

On September 10, at the Senate budget hearing for the ARMM, Senators Franklin Drilon and Loren Legarda lauded Hataman’s performance and said he should run for election in 2013.

Malacanang has yet to announce Hataman’s running mate.

Hataman’s running for governor, however, has raised the issue on whether or not he is deemed resigned once he files his certificate of candidacy next week. The filing schedule is on October 1 to 5.

Deemed resigned?

Hataman said he was informed he could continue serving as  OIC Governor until June 30, 2013 because his case is unique in that he was appointed to an elective post.

Comelec (Commission on Elections) spokesperson James Jimenez told MindaNews Tuesday that “the official Comelec position is that appointed officials are deemed resigned upon filing of their certificates of candidacy.”

He said that while Hataman’s status may be “unique as it is, it doesn’t really present a novel case. Appointed siya, di ba? (He is appointed, right?). So rules for the appointed need to apply.”

Comelec Resolution 9518 issued on September 11 provides under Section 4 – “Effects of Filing Certificate of Candidacy” — that “any person holding a public appointive office or position, including active members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other officers and employees in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be considered ipso facto resigned from his office and must vacate the same at the start of the day of the filing of his Certificate of Candidacy.”

The same section provides that any person holding an elective office or position “shall not be considered resigned upon the filing of his Certificate of Candidacy whether for the same or any other elective office or position.”

Jimenez said there is “no official document” that says a person appointed to an elective post is not deemed resigned.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he said.

The governors are mum on who would be Hataman’s running mate. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews with a report from Ferdinandh Cabrera)