ARMM needs a ‘ghostbuster’ to clean up regional bureaucracy, says peace activist
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – A Catholic priest and an expert on Mindanao autonomy has an unsolicited advice to President Benigno Aquino III: Appoint a “ghostbuster.”
Father Eliseo Mercado of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and director of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance said the officer-in-charge governor must be able to bust ghost teachers, ghost employees, ghost projects, ghost schools, ghost roads and bridges, ghost voters and many other ghosts working in the region and raking in people’s money.
“No if’s and but’s, the new OIC’s litmus test is the courage and the political will to put an end to all that are ghosts and mirages that have made the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) notorious for graft and electoral fraud,” Mercado said in a statement.
On September 30, the term of office of the incumbent elected officials will end to pave the way for the assumption of Malacañang-appointed officials from OIC-governor to Cabinet posts and members of the regional assembly, who will serve for at least 20 months.
“The acting governor should have daring policies to institute genuine reforms in the region,” Mercado said, adding that putting as “OICs” the same political faces in the bureaucracy would mean business as usual for ARMM grafters.
The OIC governor should ensure “no wang-wang in ARMM governance,” to borrow the President’s metaphor to describe abuse of power in his State of the Nation Address, Mercado said.
The priest said leadership must be by stewardship and not by entitlement; that perks of public offices and public representation be done away with; and that the caretakers must focus on improving the human development indicators in the ARMM.
Mercado cited the performance of current ARMM executive Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo who introduced reforms in the regional governance.
“Sinarimbo, who reports to his office by 8:30 or 9 a.m. every day, does his work and visits projects. ES Sinarimbo is, presently, the no-nonsense face of the ARMM,” Mercado said.
He said the OIC governor must ensure that peace and security of citizens are assured and not just their (officials’) security and their peace, referring to the use of policemen as personal escorts of public officials.
Malacañang is in the process of selecting people who will lead the ARMM government and the executive branch.