COTABATO CITY, Philippines?Elected and appointed officials of Shariff Kabunsuan on Saturday expressed dismay over the Supreme Court decision on Friday voiding with finality the creation of the province.
Shariff Kabunsuan was carved out of some Maguindanao towns in 2006 by the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) through Muslim Mindanao Act 201.
But the Supreme Court ruled its creation was illegal after Shariff Kabunsuan Rep. Didagen Dilangalen had sought clarification of the constitutionality of the RLA action.
The Supreme Court said only Congress had the power to divide and create new provinces and not offices like the RLA.
ARMM officials sought reconsideration of the high court?s decision, arguing the RLA was empowered to subdivide and create new entities under the ARMM charter.
But the Supreme Court denied their motion with finality, saying it found no compelling reason or ?substantial arguments to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision.?
Shariff Kabunsuan Vice Gov. Ibrahim Ibay, who has been acting governor pending resolution of the dispute, said local officials were ?in disarray.?
?We do not know what to do with the more than 800 provincial employees,? Ibay told reporters. ?We are practically unemployed now.?
Records showed Shariff Kabunsuan had 490 regular employees and 250 contractual and casual employees.
Maguindanao provincial administrator Norie Unas said Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan was set to meet with officials of the defunct province ?to find ways and means to help the provincial government cushion the impact of the court?s decision.?
?We have our lawyers studying the options,? Unas told the Inquirer by phone. ?With the Supreme Court ruling now final, the provincial governor is looking for options on how to help the affected employees.?
Unas said Ampatuan was the one who pushed for the creation of Shariff Kabunsuan in 2006. Edwin O. Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao