Selection process for ARMM OICs continues despite TRO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 Sept) –  The screening process for officers in charge of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will continue despite the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order, Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo said.

“The TRO did not bar us from continuing with the screening process; hence, we will resume the pre-selection activities,” Robredo said in a press statement posted on the website of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

The Screening Committee headed by Robredo was in Cotabato City last Tuesday for the first regional forum with the shortlisted candidates for OIC Governor and Vice Governor when the Supreme Court handed down the TRO, stopping the implementation of RA 10153, the law that synchronized the scheduled August 8, 20011 ARMM polls with the mid-term polls in 2013 and authorized the President to name OICs.

Executive Order 51 issued on July 28 gave the Screening Committee until September 20 to  submit to the President a list of three nominees each for the 26 posts that will be vacated by noon of September 30,  the end of the three-year term of the ARMM officials.

Voting 8-4, the Supreme Court on September 13 issued a TRO “effective immediately and until further orders from the court, enjoining and prohibiting the implementation of RA 10153.”

At least seven petitions were filed before the Supreme Court, questioning the legality and constitutionality of the law.

The SC ruling also said that in the event that the cases are not decided by September 30, 2011, the incumbent officials — Acting Governor Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong and Acting Vice Governor Rejie Sahali-Generale and 24 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly —  “shall continue to perform their functions on a holdover capacity pursuant to Section 7, Article VIII of Republic Act No. 9054.”

According to the DILG website, the Screening Committee will proceed with its pre-selection process and forward the short list to the Senate and the House of Representatives before submission to the President.

The second regional forum, supposedly scheduled for September 15 in Zamboanga City was called off but will be held on Monday, September 19.

“I believe that this is just a temporary setback in our effort to carry out dramatic reforms in the region,” Robredo said of the TRO.

He said the government will file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court and expressed optimism that the TRO will be lifted.

Six nominees for OIC Governor and six for OIC Vice Governor have been shortlisted

Shortlisted for OIC Governor are: Mujiv Hataman of  Basilan; Sanchez Ali, Saidamen Pangarungan, Dimas Pundato and Norma Sharief of Lanao del Sur; and  Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu. Only Mangudadatu did not show up in the Cotabato forum.

Shortlisted for OIC Vice Governor are Hatimil Hassan of Basilan; Bobby Datimbang, Bainon Karon and Eid Kabalu of Maguindanao; Dimapuno Datu-Ramos  and ARMM Acting Regional Governor Adiong. Only Adiong did not show up in the Cotabato forum as he was attending a budget hearing on the ARMM in Manila.

The “transformation” of the ARMM is a crucial factor in the first component of the government’s “three-for-one” proposed peace settlement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen in his statement on the KL talks on August 23 described the proposal as “principled, realistic and practical” involving three components: massive economic development; political settlement with the MILF, and; cultural-historical acknowledgment.

“In the first component, the government informed the MILF that the government will go through a transformation of the ARMM,” he said, adding there would be a “massive program of social services and economic development and these will prepare the people and serve to strengthen the foundations on which economic development can commence and be sustained.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)