Thousands of ARMM gov’t workers face uncertainty
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The fate of at least 8,000 employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) hangs in the balance in the face of the upcoming dissolution of the five-province region to be replaced by the new Bangsamoro entity.
While ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman believes the government workers will not be affected by the demise of the current autonomous government, a high Moro Islamic Liberation Front official says otherwise.
“The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro said that ARMM is a failed experiment and must be abolished,” said Mohagher Iqbal, who now chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body tasked with drafting the basic law that would govern the new political entity.
Iqbal said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the abolition of the ARMM would also mean letting go of the current employees to usher in a better bureaucracy.
But because the MILF understands that the current set of employees also have families to feed, their removal would be “done in phase and in a gradual manner.”
Iqbal said for now, the ARMM employees could relax because even the question of how and when the abolition of the region would take place was still unclear.
“It is still one of the remaining issues that must be discussed,” he said, adding that there were even suggestions the current set of workers, especially those who are civil service eligible and therefore enjoy tenure, should be automatically absorbed in the new structure.
In a separate telephone interview on Thursday, Hataman said he believed the tenure of the current employees would not be affected even if the ARMM was dissolved.
“It is not stated in any provision of the agreement that these personnel will be removed,” Hataman said, adding they had nothing to be worried about.
With respect to some 3,000 contractual employees, Hataman said that he could not guarantee they would be absorbed by the new entity.
Iqbal said if and when workers are finally removed, he could assure that it would be “within the bounds of the law.”
He hinted those affected would be allowed to re-apply for work because “everyone will have an equal footing in the employment process in the Bangsamoro.”
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