Aquino cautioned over appointing ARMM officers-in-charge
COTABATO CITY – President Benigno Aquino III should exert extreme caution in appointing officers-in-charge in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) because he might pick individuals, who would drive the region to its final demise, Father Eliseo Mercado Jr. said.
Mercado is considered an expert on Mindanao autonomy and is executive director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) based here.
Mercado said the survival of the ARMM or its collapse in the next 22 months now rested in the hands of Aquino after Congress decided to suspend the regional polls to 2013.
“No doubt, he is now responsible for the rise or the final collapse of the ARMM. From this day forward, there will be no passing the buck for whatever happens in the ARMM. ARMM’s rise and fall is now intimately tied to PNoy’s [Aquino’s nickname],” Mercado, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, said in a statement.
He said President Aquino’s hands were full of other issues and he needed to be guided properly in his choices for officers-in-charge, who will run the affairs of the impoverished and “dependent on the national government” autonomy for nearly two years to 2013.
“We can only hope and pray that the President will be rightly guided in his choice of people to undertake his desired reforms in the ARMM,” Mercado said.
He said the reality was that the ARMM had lost its credibility before its constituents and many of its politicians were not trustworthy for them anymore.
“Rightly or wrongly, people no longer trust the people and the institutions in the ARMM. The new stewards need to restore people’s trust and confidence in regional bureaucracy that has become, for three decades, personal entitlements,” Mercado said.
Mercado said among the things the OICs should work on to restore the people’s trust is “to re-energize and perhaps re-invent the delivery of basic services to the ARMM constituents, specifically in health, in basic education, in agriculture and in other rural infrastructures.”
“Without restoring people’s trust in the officials and the ARMM bureaucracy, all attempts at reforms would be vain,” he warned.
Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) debunked claims by some politicians they were being endorsed by the rebel group for OIC posts.
“We have nothing to do with the ARMM. It is entirely an affair of government and we completely shun any participation in it,” Muhammad Ameen, chair of the MILF secretariat, said in a statement.
He described the ARMM as a failed experiment.
“No matter how the Aquino administration tries to reform the ARMM, it cannot be done because it is a fake autonomy,” Ameen said.
Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao
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