It’s almost Sept. 30, but where’s the AO on selecting ARMM caretakers

DAVAO CITY  — Two months before September 30, the end of term of the incumbent officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the beginning of the 21-month caretaker government, there is no word as yet on who will comprise the selection committee and what its criteria for selection of  officers-in-charge (OICs) will be.

The AO was expected to be issued shortly after President Aquino signed Republic Act 10153, the law that canceled the August 8, 2011 ARMM polls to synchronize it with the national elections on May 13, 2013.

The President signed it on June 30, or nearly a month ago.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles told MindaNews Sunday  the that the AO is for signing by the President “anytime this week.”

ARMM Executive Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo had earlier told MindaNews he hopes the transition team from the outgoing administration to the caretaker administration could begin working by September 1.

The law under Section 4 mandates the creation of a screening committee “whose members shall be appointed by the President, which shall screen and recommend, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President, the persons who will be appointed as OICs.”

At least 50 major posts in the ARMM are to be vacated by September and filled by President Aquino’s OICs:  26 elective posts (governor, vice governor, 24 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly), and at least 24 Cabinet members and heads of offices.

This is the first time in the 21-year history of the ARMM that a President is appointing OICs to govern a Constitutionally-mandated autonomous region.

Lobbying  and jockeying for appointment as OICs has intensified among political parties and party-list groups allied with President Aquino, including those who were defeated in the May 2010 polls.

In a press statement issued by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Deles announced to local government officials led by Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu in Cotabato City on Saturday that government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) agreed on a partnership because of the opportunity for reforming the ARMM, but “partnerships have many levels and it is not only with the OIC Governor but also with the Regional Legislative Assembly members who will be appointed.”

Deles said the OIC who will be chosen “should have the capability to implement a roadmap for reforms.”

“If Nur Misuari wants to be the OIC, he should formally submit an application so that he will be included in the selection process just like the other candidates,” the OPAPP press statement quoted her as ssaying.

Misuari, chair of the MNLF who signed the 1976 and 1996 peace agreements with government, served as ARMM Governor from 1996 to 2001, the third governor after Zacaria Candao (1990 to 1993) and Liningding Pangandaman (1993-1996). Misuari was succeeded in office by the MNLF’s Foreign Affairs chief, Parouk Hussein. Hussein’s successor in 2005 was Zaldy Ampatuan who was reelected in 2008 but was arrested and detained in December 2009 as one of the principal suspects in the November 23, 2009 massacre.

“President Aquino is clear on what he wants for an OIC, one who will perform reforms, not politics. The President wants to make a difference in the ARMM,” Deles was quoted as saying.  (MindaNews)