In a week of in-your-face surprises, it was the most discombobulating, the kind that makes you feel you are bobo. Or taken for one.
This was the proclamation by President Aquino of ARMM OIC-Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman as official candidate of the Liberal Party for the same position.
Jesse Robredo’s appointment as interior secretary couldn’t be confirmed for two years. But it took only a few days to get Mar Roxas confirmed as interior secretary; and a day after the confirmation, Roxas, who has never even been a barangay chairman, was sent to China as a special envoy. The first time he went there he was served only chichiria for lunch; this time siningil pa siya ng utang.
Then there was the appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as chief justice, jumping over the heads of the more senior members of the high tribunal, as well as those of the nonjustices who were just as worthy, or more deserving, because they obviously were cleared of personality problems.
And a few days ago, there was the “bail-out” of former Gov. Grace Padaca, with the entire P70,000 cash bail coming from the “personal funds” of no less than President Aquino, who is “Noynoy” to Padaca. Nothing wrong with that, the money didn’t come from the taxpayers anyway. (Say something like this in America where presidential elections will be held next month.) To stress the obvious, no less than Interior Secretary Mar Roxas paid out the cash, a gesture not lost on a grateful Padaca. “Kung nandiyan si Noynoy at si Mar, sinong katatakutan mo?” (Why does this remind me of Psalm 27?)
Right. As Mar himself (who was standing behind her all this time like a devoted godfather) said, even the police hesitated to serve her the four-month-old arrest warrant. This coming from no less than the one official who, among his other functions, is supposed to have administrative supervision over the Philippine National Police.
And to think that only two days before, Padaca, so full of grace but not a lawyer, had just been appointed to the Commission on Elections as a commissioner.
Yet it took the PNP only hours after a warrant was issued, to arrest a former president in her hospital bed holding on to life by a single thread.
But it is she, P-Noy’s unlamented predecessor, who must have inspired the latter to break his promise to the nation that the appointed ad interim officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), who were mandated to initiate the much-hailed reform of the autonomous government, would not be eligible to run in the synchronized local elections next year.
According to Hataman it was the President himself who urged him to run—a revelation that seemed to be as perplexing to the TV news anchors who interviewed him for clarification as to the rest of us.
“Alin ang mas matimbang, ’yong sinasabing clamor for you to run or your promise not to run?” asked ANC’s Karmina Constantino.
“It kind of leaves a bad taste in the mouth,” remarked a confused Gigi Grande to her co-anchor on the noontime news.
“Who am I to say no to the President?” Hataman kept on asking in various TV appearances. This therefore must be Hataman’s guiding principle in the unlikely event that he will head the autonomous government, thereby giving a totally new meaning to the word “autonomous.”
Which must be why Abuamri Taddik (a real name and person—he was a pupil of my mother’s), deputy secretary general for political affairs of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) central committee and former high-ranking officer of the Bangsa Moro Army, sent an urgent hand-written letter to this column on behalf of the MNLF, excerpts of which are quoted below:
“We are holding Mujiv Hataman to his promise not to run in the ARMM elections in 2013 should he be appointed OIC-Governor of the autonomous government, and this was further stressed in a statement by the late DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo.
“The Organic Act creating the ARMM was the government’s response to the MNLF demand for self-determination, and the autonomous government is the only structure by which the national government is implementing the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement.
“More than 100 senior and junior MNLF commanders mostly foreign-trained have signed a resolution endorsing Abdusakur M. Tan to be the official candidate of the Liberal Party for governor of the ARMM and for President Aquino to proclaim him as such.
“Several Muslim organizations had sent an open letter to the President with a similar endorsement.
“Four provincial governors and several municipal mayors, provincial board members, and members of the regional legislative assembly have likewise endorsed Governor Tan instead of Mujiv Hataman who has never had any experience in local government.
“Religious leaders of different Muslim associations have also endorsed Tan as the most qualified and most deserving leader to guide the
ARMM constituents along Pres. Aquino’s ‘daang matuwid.’
“Mr. President, if it is true as you stated in your inaugural address, that we the people are your boss, then listen to our appeal to you to proclaim Gov. Tan as the official candidate of the Liberal Party for ARMM governor in next year’s elections.”
But in his press conference Sunday afternoon in Malacañang with almost the entire government officialdom in attendance, President Aquino said “Promises have to be kept.”
Seems he is as discombobulated as we are.
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