MALAYBALAY CITY (02 June) – So Malacanang has said that those who will be appointed as officers-in-charge to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in case Congress approves the proposal to cancel the August 8 elections will be barred from seeking posts in 2013. But there lies the catch. If somebody tries to move heaven and earth to assure somebody else, it could only mean that a real danger looms.
Make the OICs sign a covenant that will bar them from running? Fine. But again, the added layer of assurance only bolsters suspicions that self-serving interests lurk beneath the proposal. I go by the principle of direct proportionality – more assurances, more risks. Here’s a more vivid parallelism: if your doctor prescribes a long list of medicines, it means your health could be in serious state and you may need to take measures other than swallowing pills and capsules.
To extend the metaphor, postponing this year’s ARMM elections is one bitter pill the national government wants the not so autonomous region to take supposedly for the sake of instituting reforms in its body politic. Malacanang – or whoever convinced the President to push for the postponement – might be thinking that using this excuse would just be like adding fruit flavor to a bitter pill. After all, whenever the word reform pops up in relation to the ARMM the reports of spurious voters’ lists, tens of thousands of loose firearms and millions, if not billions, in unaccounted public funds easily come to mind, aside from the conditions that have created the likes of the Ampatuans.
Aren’t these reasons enough to cancel the August 8 elections and work for the more urgent task of reforming the region? Unfortunately for the Palace and other supporters of the proposed postponement, the same arguments work against their wishes. They imply that the situation in the ARMM has become so desperate that some surgery should be done to salvage whatever remains of its political health.
And there lies the basic flaw of such arguments. If the ARMM must go under the proverbial knife, why mustn’t the other regions too? Why not impose a moratorium on ALL elections – from the barangay to the national level – until such time that genuine reforms are put in place? In what area of the country is corruption absent? In an article yesterday for MindaNews, Fr. Eliseo Mercado pointed out: “The total budget for the ARMM in 2011 is P 11, 179, 638.000 or the equivalent of 0.67% of the national budget. Granted the argument that there is massive corruption in the ARMM government, we are actually speaking only of 0.67% of the national budget! The corruption in the ARMM would NOT even make a dent in the corruption in the national government.”
I submit that non-government groups in the ARMM that are supporting moves to postpone the polls are motivated by an honest desire to make things a lot better for governance in the region. But they are unwittingly drawn to a vicious power play orchestrated by those who wish to influence the outcome of the elections in 2013 through such questionable means as subverting the essence of autonomy.
OICs won’t be allowed to run so as to level the playing field in the 2013 polls? That’s a blatant insult to the people’s intelligence. We all know the OICs will never run short of alter-egos – relatives or loyal proxies – who can replace them. There are at least a dozen ways to skirt those words on the prescription pad. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])