Leadership row ends in Maguindanao Norte | Inquirer News

Leadership row ends in Maguindanao Norte

/ 05:06 AM November 17, 2023



COTABATO CITY—The Supreme Court has recently ruled that former vice governor Bai Ainee Sinsuat has lost her right to the gubernatorial seat of Maguindanao del Norte under the law mandating the split of Maguindanao province after she took an oath before President Marcos as the new province’s second highest official.

The Supreme Court Public Information Office (SCPIO) on Wednesday said the court’s Second Division had reversed its June 26 ruling saying, “Sinsuat, as Acting Governor, has a clear legal right to recommend the appointment of the Provincial Treasurer of the Province of Maguindanao del Norte.”


The June ruling pertains to the petition for mandamus filed in February by Sinsuat to compel the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) to act on her request to designate a treasurer for Maguindanao del Norte so that fund disbursements can be processed.


The BLGF recommends to the secretary of the Department of Finance a candidate for appointment as treasurer of local government units.

The BLGF and the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) had earlier maintained that Sinsuat had no personality to request for such designation as her assumption as Maguindanao del Norte’s acting governor in October last year was surrounded by legal questions.

The BLGF and the MILG had asked the court to reconsider its June decision.

In reversing its earlier ruling, the SCPIO said the Second Division found “that the factual circumstances under which the Court issued its assailed June 26, 2023, Decision are drastically different from the present state of things as revealed by the parties.”

“ … The Court ruled that Sinsuat is deemed to have abandoned her claim to the position of Governor of Maguindanao del Norte when she accepted her appointment, took her oath and assumed office as Vice Governor of Maguindanao del Norte,” the SCPIO added.

Petition dismissed

Sinsuat, who won as Maguindanao vice governor in last year’s general elections, assumed as acting governor of Maguindanao del Norte in October last year following the Sept. 17, 2022, plebiscite that favored the split of Maguindanao into two provinces.


Such action was not recognized by the MILG which said that Republic Act No. 11550 did not provide for such a transition mechanism.

On April 4 this year, President Marcos appointed Abdulraof Macacua, military chief of the erstwhile rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as acting governor, and Sinsuat as acting vice governor. They took their oath before the President on April 28.

The high court has also dismissed Sinsuat’s mandamus petition for being moot, the SCPIO further said.

The recent ruling was handed down by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, who also penned the June decision.

“We hope that this decision will put to rest the (leadership) problem in Maguindanao del Norte and that the people will be able to avail of unhampered services from the provincial government,” BARMM Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo told reporters in a press briefing on Thursday.

Apart from losing her case, Sinsuat was also asked by the high court to explain why she should not be cited in contempt for her failure to promptly inform the high court of her appointment, oath taking and assumption as Maguindanao del Norte’s vice governor in April.

Show cause order

The SC issued the show cause order to Sinsuat on Monday, according to the SCPIO.

It lamented that while the high court takes judicial notice of the official acts of the President in appointing Sinsuat, the parties should have at least informed the court of the supervening events which significantly altered the possible outcome of the case.

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“Sinsuat’s silence and omissions appear to constitute intentional concealment which tends to disrespect the Court’s authority as final dispenser of justice,” the SC said, adding that “her actions tend to cripple the Court’s authority to render an informed and just resolution of the case.”

TAGS: Governor, Maguindanao del Norte, Supreme Court

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