People with criminal cases may qualify for ARMM OIC posts—Robredo
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said here on Monday that Malacañang does not mind if an aspirant for an officer-in-charge position in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has pending criminal charges in court.
Robredo was responding to questions raised by several participants during the forum and presentation of aspirants for various OIC posts in the ARMM here.
He said an aspirant is still qualified if he has not been convicted of any crime.
Among the aspirants for the post of OIC governor whose backgrounds were questioned were Eid Kabalu, former spokesperson of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and Mujiv Hataman, former Anak Mindanao party-list representative.
Kabalu had been charged, along with other MILF leaders, in connection with some violent incidents in Central Mindanao and parts of the ARMM.
Hataman, on the other hand, was earlier implicated in the November 2004 Batasang Pambansa explosion, which left four people dead, including then Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar.
“It doesn’t follow that once you have a case, you are guilty. A complaint or pending case will not disqualify them. There’s always a presumption of innocence,” Robredo said.
To appease those who have raised questions on the background of some aspirants, Robredo said those who would be retained on Malacañang’s list will be further checked “to determine the nature and status of their cases.”
He said the National Bureau of Investigation would be helping in the verification of the aspirants’ cases, if any.
“We need to examine what the cases are but we’d rather not disqualify them automatically. We’d rather look at how serious the cases are,” he said, adding that “local officials without cases are very rare.”
While those with criminal cases will still be considered, Robredo said those involved in scandalous incidents were automatically removed from the shortlist.
He did not explain what these scandalous incidents were or who were removed from the list because of these.
Robredo said “we are not looking for manager here but an advocate.”
“Very likely, the one that will be chosen will represent or will be accepted by the cross section (of the society),” he said.
Malacañang, through a screening committee that Robredo heads, has been trying to choose officials who will run the ARMM following Congress’ passage of a bill resetting the elections there from August this year to 2013.
The current regional officials will be stepping down on September 30.