IT HAS BEEN more than a week since President Aquino signed Republic Act 10153, the law synchronizing the ARMM elections with the 2013 national elections. While the postponement of the 2011 ARMM election presents a much-needed opportunity to trigger fundamental reforms in the region, it also poses a challenge to the Aquino administration of making sure that this transition works.
Many personalities and groups have already expressed their interest in being appointed to positions, particularly as Regional Governor. From what is being talked about in public, it seems that these people are courting President Aquino’s favor through their friends in government or the President’s circle.
We are concerned that unless an Administrative Order immediately sets the guidelines for the formation of a Screening Committee to select the 26 ARMM officers-in-charge (Governor, Vice Governor and 24 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly), the selection for these appointed positions will become too partisan or personal, be perceived to only take into consideration the interests of those closest to the appointing powers and thus derail the aims and integrity of the interim preparatory period.
More than focusing on appointments, what we need for ARMM is a governance team that will work well together, work fast and work with a vision and capability to deliver necessary and sustainable reforms. We believe that this team will be best identified by a Screening Committee of stakeholders from different sectors, with representatives from civil society, business, religious groups, ethnic minorities and women, who have an in-depth knowledge of the context and challenges facing ARMM and a keen understanding of needed directions for reform in the region.
We can only maximize the gains from this opportunity if we do things right. The Aquino administration owes it to the people of ARMM to do well on its promise of change. Let us not waste this opportunity or allow it to be muddled by gross partisanship or misleading interests. We call on the government to put up an honest-to-goodness selection process that can lead us in the straight path to reforms. The process for genuine reforms starts from here.
Maxine Tanya M. Hamada
Executive Director, INCITEGov