ARMM officials carry functions on holdover capacity

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/30 Sept) – A governance vacuum in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is unlikely until the Supreme Court finally makes a final decision on the constitutionality of Republic Act 10153, a top ARMM official assured.

RA 10153 canceled the August 8 regional polls and synchronized it with the 2013 mid-term elections. It also gave President Benigno C. Aquino III the power to appoint officers-in-charge replacing the incumbent officials whose three-year term of office expires noon today (Friday).

Naguib Sinarimbo, ARMM executive secretary, said that Gov. Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong and other elected officials will continue to serve in holdover capacities until the issue is resolved.

Last September 13, the SC court issued a temporary restraining order against the implementation of RA 10153.

As of Friday, the High Tribunal has not ruled on the matter.

SC spokesman Midas Marquez reportedly said earlier that the High Tribunal “may come up with a decision on RA 10153 before September 30 or in October.”

Late Thursday afternoon at the “Tapatan sa ARMM,” the regular weekly press conference of the ARMM regional government, Sinarimbo assured that government services in the autonomous Muslim region will not be disrupted by the TRO.

“If the SC prolongs the TRO, in this case we’ll have to stay, we’ll continue our services to our people regardless whether our tenure ends by tomorrow or it ends in some other time,” he said.

Adiong did not show up in the press conference although the region’s Bureau of Public Information advised earlier in the day that he would be attending.

But the governor later showed up in the “recognition night” to award plaques to foreign donors and non-government organizations for helping in the development thrusts of the almost two-year-old Adiong administration.

Adiong assumed the top regional post after Zaldy Ampatuan was suspended and arrested due to his alleged involvement in the November 23, 2009 massacre.

Fifty-eight people, including 32 media workers (one was not recovered), were killed in that brutal manslaughter in the hilly interiors of Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

Meanwhile, Sinarimbo assured that Adiong and the other elected ARMM officials will smoothly turn over the reigns of power if RA 10153 will be declared constitutional by the SC.

President Aquino signed RA 10153 last June 30.

In his State of the Nation Address on July 25, Aquino said that allowing the ARMM elections to proceed on August 8 as scheduled by law “would have perpetuated the endless cycle of electoral fraud and official abuse that has led the ARMM to become one of the poorest regions in the country.” (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)