FACT CHECK: (Updated) Maguindanao Norte workers debunk Hataman’s claim of no wages for 4 months

(Editor’s note: This updated story includes the response of Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman to the statement of the Maguindanao del Norte Provincial Employees Association debunking his claim.)

Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman’s claim that the salaries of workers in Maguindanao del Norte are delayed by four months is false.

During the budget deliberation at the House of Representatives on September 26, Hataman said: “Apat na buwan na hong walang sahod … sa Maguindanao del Norte.” (There has been no salary for four months already … in Maguindanao del Norte.)

Engr. Madki Acbar, president of the Maguindanao del Norte Provincial Employees Association (MDNPEA), debunked the claim of Hataman in a press conference in Cotabato City on Thursday, 28 September.

“During Congressman Hataman’s interpellation about the ongoing political crisis in Maguindanao del Norte, he mentioned that employees had gone without salaries for four months, but in truth, it has only been for the month of August 2023,” Acbar said, reading from a prepared statement with fellow workers behind them.

In a Facebook post Friday morning, Hataman stood pat on his claim, stating he would never allow himself to be used by anybody. He provided a certification issued by Zaira E. Ala, acting provincial treasurer of Maguindanao del Norte, on Thursday, 28 September, which Hataman said was his basis for the pronouncement.

Ala said that due to the pending legal controversy in the Office of the Provincial Governor and Vice Governor as the legitimate accountable officials of Maguindanao del Norte, there has been no disbursement of funds from the accounts of the province.

“Hence, there have been no salaries disbursed covering the months of May 2023 to present for Contract of Service and job order personnel of the Executive Department while no salaries have been disbursed for all permanent employees since August 2023 to present,” Ala said.

The MDNPEA’s statement on Thursday did not mention anything about Contract of Service and job order personnel.

Acbar blamed the delayed salaries in August to the failure of the designated treasurer of Maguindanao del Norte, who was appointed by the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) Region 12, to report to the Provincial Treasurer’s Office.

“We appeal to those involved in the Maguindanao del Norte issue not to exploit our situation for personal gain or political motives. The core concern is the delay in receiving our salary and mandates of the different offices due to the treasurer’s absence from work,” he said.

Read the full statement from this image posted by DXMY 90.9 Cotabato.

In a decision released in early August, the Supreme Court’s Second Division ruled in favor of the Writ of Mandamus filed by Maguindanao del Norte acting Vice Governor Ainee Sinsuat against the Bureau of Local Government Finance of the Department of Finance.

In its ruling, the High Tribunal stated: “Respondent Bureau of Local Government and Finance, Regional Office No. XII is ordered to process the appointment of Badorie M. Alonzo or any qualified person designated by petitioner Province of Maguindanao del Norte, through Acting Governor Fatima Ainee L. Sinsuat, as Provincial Treasurer of the Province of Maguindanao del Norte with utmost dispatch. The writ of preliminary mandatory injunction issued earlier is made permanent.”

Following the release of the Supreme Court ruling, Sinsuat announced she’s reassuming as Maguindanao del Norte governor.

Sinsuat was elected Maguidanao vice governor in the May 2022 elections before it was divided into two independent provinces. The plebiscite for the division of Maguindanao was held on September 17, 2022.

In April 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed Abdulraof Macacua as OIC governor of Maguindanao del Norte and Sinsuat as OIC vice governor. Both accepted the post.

Prior to the appointment, Macacua served as Executive Secretary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. He is also the military chief of the erstwhile rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is leading the BARMM transition government.

Hataman served as the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the BARMM replaced in 2019.

As with all our other reports, MindaNews welcomes leads or suggestions from the public to potential fact-check stories. 

MindaNews is a verified signatory to the Code of Principles of the International Fact-Checking Network. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism. It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media.

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MindaNews Fact Check - Methodology

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Carolyn O. Arguillas
Jose Jowel Canuday, PhD
Robert D. Timonera

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