Quantcast

Editorial

The die is cast


EDITORIAL CARTOON

Whether to postpone the scheduled elections of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was always a complicated question, a difficult judgment call. If it is an act of charity to remember the best arguments for and against postponement, then we should at least recall that distinguished citizens of the ARMM, the very voters whose vote was at stake, could be found on opposite sides of the issue. The die, however, is cast. It is now incumbent on the Aquino administration to ensure that the reforms the postponement is supposed to put in place do not remain merely on the level of good intentions.

A year in office, the administration has demonstrated that on the most contentious issues, it can flex its political muscle in Congress: the passage of a reform budget, the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the postponement of the ARMM polls to 2013. (Would that this list would soon include the decision not to allow military honors or a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, despite the revisionist resolution filed in the House of Representatives.) But after a year in office, the administration has yet to convince the general public that it knows how to follow through.

The basic idea behind the push for postponement was the culture of corruption and impunity, of transactional politics at its rawest and most violent, that surrounds each act of voting in the ARMM. In the presidential elections of 2004 and the senatorial elections of 2007, election fraud in some ARMM provinces was so massive it helped ensure the election of candidates for national office. In 2009, the mere act of filing a certificate of candidacy for the 2010 elections was considered such a threat and a challenge to the existing order in Ampatuan-controlled Maguindanao that a terrible massacre was perpetrated. To this day, some politicians from the region continue to boast about their so-called command vote, a reality backed by dynastic politics, entrenched bureaucracies and well-equipped private armies.

The postponement is meant to solve some if not most of these problems. The controversial appointment of officers in charge or OICs in the region—a throwback to the first Aquino administration, provided for in the law mandating the synchronization of elections in 2013—is a crucial first step in the search for solutions. Because legal experts considered the proposed disqualification of all OICs from running in the 2013 elections unconstitutional (it would have effectively added a new qualification not found in the Constitution itself), the provision has been dropped. But persons appointed to OIC positions should not contest the 2013 polls. Allowing them to do so would tempt some or most to act with political interests in mind, thus defeating the very purpose of the postponement. Unfortunately, Malacañang is left with only one weapon to prevent OIC appointees from turning themselves into candidates: moral suasion.

We must confess to a slight sense of pessimism; we hope the administration can specify the measures it will put in place, between now and when the first OICs are named in September, to stop ambitious appointees from making a mockery of the ARMM reform agenda.

But that matter is small beer compared to the daunting task of dismantling the private armies. Part of the answer lies in supporting the units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the area with top-level backing; that way, they will not be at the mercy of local politicians or political opportunism. Another part must lie in the dangerous but necessary example-setting of the OICs; they cannot have their own private armies while seeking to disarm those of other politicians. It is a complicated operation, and the Aquino administration has less than two years to make it work.

Not least, the moneys that pour into the ARMM’s coffers must be given the strictest accounting. This may even be more arduous than the dismantling of the private armies, and will certainly be more tedious. But for too long a political tradition that treats public funds as entirely at the discretion of local officials (a tradition not limited to the ARMM, to be sure) has helped keep the cities and provinces of the region at the bottom of the development ladder.

OICs, private armies, budget abuse—and the list only gets longer. There is no time to lose.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=6018

Tags: ampatuan , arm , editorial , Elections , Government , opinion



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • 22 houses destroyed, 3 hurt as violent wind storm hits village
  • 242 out of 438 pass board tests for chemical engineers
  • Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  • 5 OFWs from Negros quarantined for MERS-CoV tests
  • Release of village chief’s truck caught carrying illegal logs slammed
  • Sports

  • Jackson finds second wind to push Meralco past Rain or Shine
  • NLEX fights off Derulo Accelero to remain unbeaten
  • Mayweather diehard Bieber eats pride, poses with Pacquiao for photo op
  • Power Pinays rip Singapore to enter quarters in Asian volley tilt
  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Oil prices to go up on supply concerns, optimism on US rebound
  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • QC woman who flew in from Middle East tests negative for MERS-CoV
  • DFA, DOH urge OFWs not to panic over MERS-Cov
  • Balikatan could spoil peace talks, says militant group
  • DFA officers hold workshop on aiding human traffic victims
  • Canada in communication with PH on toxic wastes
  • Marketplace