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Fr. Jun Mercado OMI

A heated race for ARMM OIC posts

September 9, 2011 8:35am

With all the wild talks about the ARMM, from ghost employees to corruption, I thought that few would be interested in vying for the OIC posts during the 21- month transition period. The reform agenda is very daunting and the time frame is so short and it would require a miracle to clean the proverbial Augean stable that is the ARMM.

I am dead wrong! The list of ‘wannabes’ seeking OIC posts is, indeed, very long! For the positions of OIC ARMM Governor, there are 74 applicants and nominees; for the position of Vice Governor – 27 and for the Regional Assembly with 24 members representing 8 congressional districts, there are 366 applicants and nominees! WOW!

The President established a Selection Committee composed of the DILG Secretary, DND Secretary, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, a representative of ARMM Provincial Governors and City mayor, and one civil society organization. The task of the said committee is to short-list the applicants and nominees and then present them to the general public in Cotabato City, Zamboanga City, Jolo and Marawi. And from the short list of nominees, the President shall appoint OIC who would take charge of the ARMM during the transition period of 21 months to implement the much needed reforms.

The paramount reforms needed in the ARMM are the following:

1. To expand greater access to basic social services within the whole ARMM, specifically health and basic education;
2. To jump start economic development in the region, particularly in the component provinces that make up the ARMM;
3. To vivify and strengthen internal governance capacity in the regional as well as in the local government units within the ARMM;
4. To undertake concrete steps towards the total overhaul of the electoral system in the ARMM beginning with the setting aside of the voter’ lists and undertake new registration with the use of biometrics and modern technology; and
5. To be innovative and bold in instituting transitional institutional arrangements on the delivery of investment support programs to the ARMM (a sort of mini Marshall Plan) during the 21-month transition.

The so-called 366 wannabes come in different ages, faces, sizes and backgrounds both famous and notorious! The re-cycled ARMM politicians are aplenty. The old guards in the ARMM politics equally match the number of re-cycled ones.

There are also two sets of ‘revolutionaries’ (MNLF and MILF) in the list of wannabes. There are also new players in the list – they are young and untainted by dirty politics in the ARMM.

The million dollar question to you and I is who would gain prominence both in the short list as well as in the actual appointments? Would the new players have any chance at all to make it to the governance structure associated with failure (courtesy of the re-cycled ARMM leaders and the old guards)?

In the coming two or three weeks, we shall know if the Aquino government is truly serious in reforming the ARMM. The appointment of OICs would, in many ways, be the acid test of PNoy’s much taunted reforms. In fact, the appointment of OICs would signal the seriousness of the national government in effecting real changes in the ARMM besides the usual sound bytes associated with government pronouncements.

Re-cycled ARMM politicians and old guards as OICs would simply dissipate the hope and the dreams of a fresh wind blowing the ARMM. One way of removing the ‘tradpols’ and the re-cycled ones is to reduce the age limit for the ARMM OICs. In fact, I would strongly recommend NOT to appoint anyone above 45 years old as OICs both in the Executive and Legislative branches of the ARMM government.

There are new and young blood, and competent nominees in the list. The ARMM belongs to them! It is time for the ‘seniors’ to take the ‘back seats’ and simply act as ‘mentors’ to the new generation seeking to shape their own destiny. I do counsel the re-cycled politicians and the old guards to steer away from the drivers’ seat.

Let this new generation shape the present and the future of the ARMM.
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