Screening Committee for ARMM OICs to convene Friday

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 August) – The Department of Interior and Local Governments will  convene on Friday the Screening Committee for the selection of officers-in-charge (OICs) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We will have first meeting on Friday,” Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo  told MindaNews in a text message.

Executive Order 51, signed by the President on July 28, created the Screening Committee which is composed of five members: the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Governments, the Secretary of National Defense, Political Adviser of the Office of the Political Adviser,  one civil society representative to be appointed by the President, and one representative “to be nominated from among, and by the five governors and one city mayor of ARMM.”

The five governors in the ARMM  – Jum Akbar of Basilan, Mamintal Alonto Adiong of Lanao del Sur, Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Abdusakur Tan of Sulu and Sadikul Sahali of Tawi-tawi and Marawi Mayor Fahad Panarigan Salic – met last night and chose Tan as their representative to the Screening Committee.

The NGO representative has yet to be appointed by the President. Representatives of non-governmental organizations met with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles evening of August 8 in Davao City and submitted three names each for the shortlist.

The shortlist has been submitted to the Office of the President, Deles told MindaNews Wednesday night.

The Screening Committee has until September 20 to submit its shortlist of nominees for the ARMM officers in charge (OICs).

The caretaker officials will assume their posts noon of September 30 and will serve until June 30, 2013.

Public scrutiny

Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo, in his Powerpoint presentation at a forum on the ARMM reforms initiated by the Institute of Autonomy and Governance on July 28 at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City, said nominees for ARMM OICs will have to undergo “public scrutiny” for at least four weeks before their endorsement to and appointment by President Aquino.

The shortlist of top three potential nominees per position, according to the Powerpoint presentation, was pegged “not later than August 5.”  The Screening Committee, however, will be convened only on Friday, August 12.

Robredo’s Powerpoint presentation showed a graph of  the application or nomination, screening, and selection procedure.

Nominees will have to undergo “public scrutiny” through “publication in the web, and print media of national and regional circulation (broadsheet and tabloid)” for information.

They will also be scheduled to “public debates and public interviews, text voting and on-line polls to be aired live on broadcast media”  for 24 days. The schedule cited in the July 28 presentation is August 8 to September 20 but  given the delay in convening the Committee, adjustments will likely be made as to dates.

After the debates and public interviews, the nominees shall be ranked by the Screening Committee for endorsement to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Robredo’s Powerpoint presentation also noted that critical in the process is “to make sure that whoever we appoint in the regional government can implement the reforms that we want to institutionalize in the region.”

It said the process of application or nomination, screening, selection, and endorsement is guided by the following principles:  “equitable representation of the major ethno-linguistic groups, with respect to OICs of the Regional Legislative Assembly; equitable sectoral representation within a major ethno-linguistic group;  inviolability of transparency in the whole process; deference to constitutional-legal provisions on qualifications and disqualifications is fundamental; and  inviolability of non-eligibility of an OIC to run as a candidate in the May 2013 election.”

But RA 10153, which moved the August 8, 2011 elections in the ARMM to synchronize it with the national mid-term polls on May 13, 2013 and allowed the President to appoint OICs who shall serve the ARMM from noon of September 30, 2011 to June 30, 2013, does not prohibit  OICs from running for elective posts in May 2013.

The ban was contained in the House version of the bill but the Senate version of what would become RA 10153 dropped that prohibition because according to Senator Franklin Drilon, “you cannot amend through ordinary legislation the Organic Act (RA 9054) and the Organic Act enumerates what are the qualifications to run for governor, vice-governor etc. of the ARMM. To include a disqualification for those who are OICs, in my mind, as a lawyer, cannot be done because you are imposing an additional qualification and in effect amending the Organic Act.”

Qualifications

Under Section 4 of EO 51, the Screening Committee, within 30 days from convening but not later than 10 days before September 30, shall 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.

At least 24 other major posts in the ARMM – Cabinet members and heads of offices — are up for appointment under a caretaker ARMM administration.  The Screening Committee, however, is tasked to screen candidates only for the elective posts. Under the ARMM law, the Governor appoints the Cabinet members, “subject to the confirmation by the Regional Assembly.”

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 OIC Governor and OIC Vice Governor must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter of the autonomous region, able to read and write, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the autonomous region for at least one year immediately preceding the appointment. (under RA 9054, “at least one year immediately preceding the election.”)

The OIC Assemblyman must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, at least 21 years old, able to read and write, a registered voter of the district in which he or she shall represent and a resident there for a period of not less than five years immediately preceding the day of appointment (under RA 9054, “five years immediately preceding the day of the election.”

The OIC Cabinet members, in accordance with RA 9054, “must be registered voters and residents of the region for at least five years immediately preceding their appointments.”

Under RA 9054, the Governor “shall appoint the members of the cabinet subject to confirmation by the Regional Assembly.”

The three Deputy Regional Governors, also provided for under RA 9054, are to represent the “Christians, indigenous cultural communities, and the Muslims in the region.”

Together with the Governor and Vice Governor, they comprise the Executive Council which
“shall advise the Regional Governor on matters of governance of the autonomous region.”

The Committee’s secretariat, according to the EO, will be the President’s Personnel Group Secretariat of the Presidential Management Staff.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is not a member of the Screening Committee but, along with the DILG, “shall provide assistance to the Secretariat as may be required.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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