60 applicants/nominees for ARMM OICs: mostly politicians; MILF leaders “appalled”

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/24 August) —  The Department of  the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has released a list of  applicants and nominees for officers in charge (OICs) for the posts of governor, vice governor and 24 regional legislators in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, most of them politicians, and a few  officials of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and non-governmental organizations.

The listing, however, did not identify who applied and who were nominated, triggering complaints from those who are on the list but who did not know they were nominated, among them leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – two vice chairs and two members of the MILF peace panel. The MILF has issued a statement demanding their names be stricken off the list.

Listed as among 60 “applicants/nominees” for OIC Governor are the first ARMM Governor Zacaria Candao, former OIC ARMM Governor Isnaji Alvarez, incumbent Maguindanao governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, his uncle Pax Mangudadatu who was former Sultan Kudarat governor; MNLF leaders Hatimil Hassan  and Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, who heads a faction of MNLF; and  MILF leaders –vice chair for military affairs Aleem Abdulaziz Mimbantas, vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jafaar and peace panel members  Datu Michael Mastura and Abdulla Camlian.

The four said none of them applied for or gave their consent to be nominated, the MILF website, luwaran.com, said, adding the leaders were “appalled.”

“As a matter of policy, the MILF does not accept nor recognize the ARMM. As such, it is highly improbable for members of the top leadership and the peace panel to aspire to accept the appointment of President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III to serve as governor and Vice-Governor of the ARMM,” the report said.

The list of candidates posted on the DILG website is as of August 23, the same day the MILF peace panel informed the government peace panel in the talks here that they were recommending to the MILF Central Committee to reject  the government’s proposed peace settlement which includes “transformation of the ARMM.”

“The MILF views the inclusion of the names of its top officials and panel members in the government list as mischievous, if not maliciously calculated to sow discord. But it does not also discount the possibility that some well-meaning people have nominated these top MILF officials and members of the MILF panel in recognition of their integrity, sincerity to the Moro cause, competence and capability without taking into account their positions in the MILF and its political revolutionary advocacy,” the MILF website said.

Luwaran quoted MILF peace panel member Maulana Alonto as saying, “stop this chicanery. In the name of truthfulness, fairness and civility, the names of Mimbantas, Jaafar, Mastura, and Camlian should be stricken out of the list immediately.”

Also listed among the 60 is Eid Kabalu, who was recently replaced as MILF spokesperson. Kabalu had earlier told MindaNews he was vying for the post of OIC governor.

Executive Order 51 created the Screening Committee composed of the Secretary of the Interiror andLocal Government, National Defense, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, a representative of the ARMM provincial governors and a representative of civil society. It gave the committee until September 20 to submit to the President, “after due consultations with the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of  Representatives, a shortlist of at least three nominees to every vacancy in the elective positions in the ARMM Regional Government.”

The three-year term of office of the 26  incumbent officials — governor, vice governor and 24 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly — ends at noon of September 30.

Section 5 of  EO 51 provides under “Qualifications of Applicant” that no person shall be recommended as OIC unless he/she possesses the qualifications required by RA 6734 and RA 9054, the ARMM charter. The same section provides that “ in the determination of the qualifications of the applicant, the Committee shall consider educational preparation, experience, performance, accomplishments, reputation for honesty, integrity, incorruptibility, irreproachable conduct, and fidelity to sound moral and ethical standards.”

The committee provided additional documentary requirements for the  nominees: that they should present a  Certification of Residency duly signed by the Barangay Captain where the nominee is living (at least one year for Governor and Vice Governor; at least five years for Legislative Assemby Members); Certification of Voter’s Registration by the Commission on Elections; Sworn Statement attesting that no administrative, criminal or civil charge has been fled or is pending against the applicant/nominee or if there are pending cases against the applicant/nominee, an executive summary of such charges or cases; and clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation. “Incomplete submission will not be processed,” the DILG website said.

The August 23 listing of  “applicants/nominees” had an explanatory note as heading: “This is the initial list of applicants/nominees whose applications/nominations were received by the ARMM Screening Committee Secretariat before the issuance/publication of the Notice to the Public on 19 August 2011. These applicants/nominees are requested to resubmit their applications with complete documentary requirements listed in the Notice on or before 5:00 o’clock PM, August 26, 2011.”

In a press statement last week, Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo said applicants/nominees are “required to submit their applications not later than 5 pm of August 26, 2011, thru the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Affairs and Special Concerns at the DILG central office in Quezon City.”

Robredo said that as part of the selection process, names of applicants will be published before August 31. “Then, from September 1 to September 11, the screening committee will conduct an assessment of all candidates and come up with a short list of three potential candidates for each position who will be subjected to media interview for public scrutiny.”

“To those who will be appointed as OICs, they have at least 21 months to prove their worth in leadership and governance; they could be removed from their posts if they fall short of what is expected of them; and I propose that each of them be barred from running in any elective post in the coming ARMM midterm polls in May 2013,” Robredo said.

Application and nomination forms are available for download at the DILG website at http://www.dilg.gov.ph and the Office of the President website at http://www.op.gov.ph.

As of the August 23 listing, there were 60 “applicants/nominees” for OIC governor, eight for vice governor and 120 for the 24-seat Regional Legislative Assembly. The list also includes 11 persons whose positions applied or nominated for were not indicated. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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