Jun Mercado, OMI
With all the fanfare and celebration that herald the Framework Agreement between the GPH and the MILF, the scheduled ARMM elections in May 2013 look like a tragic comedy. The Framework Agreement contemplates a different scenario sans the ARMM. In fact, the language used for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is rather harsh and uncalled for. The ARMM is labeled both by GPH and the MILF as a “failed experiment” and “unacceptable.”
If all things go right as scheduled, the ARMM would cease to exist the moment the Bangsamoro Basic Law is enacted by Congress and duly ratified by the people in a referendum called for the purpose. A transitional mechanism called the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) would be created and it shall assume all the powers and functions of the ARMM. One of the principal tasks of the BTA is to reframe and reorganize the ARMM bureaucracy into a “ministerial form” of governance.
In clear yet crude language, the ARMM has been “condemned to death.” For all purposes and intent, we are now entering a period where the ARMM represents all that is rejected by the “Bangsamoro” as they await the birthing of a new autonomous political entity.
With the continuing rallies, motorcades, assemblies, and symposia on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, we begin to see that the people have now entered into a sort of “wake mood” for the moribund ARMM.
While people speak of Comprehensive Peace Compact (the Framework Agreement plus the four crucial annexes), and the Transitional Commission shaping the Basic Law and BTA, the GPH through the COMELEC prepares for the so-called first synchronized elections in the ARMM in May 2013. In short, millions have already been spent for the electoral reforms in the ARMM and millions more would be spent to conduct an election for a moribund bureaucracy that is the ARMM.
Sad and perhaps tragic is to see a government supposedly walking the matuwid na daan and yet would spend millions in a futile exercise like elections for moribund positions/offices in a condemned region that is afflicted and haunted with so many man-made “ailments,” “disasters” and “ghosts.” The life of the ARMM shall be extinguished by a “common agreement” sometime in late 2014 or early 2015. By then, it is hoped that a new transitional mechanism, the BTA, would be in place. And the ARMM is OBLITERATED!
It is understood by all sundry that there are expenses attached to the “wake” and the “actual funeral” of the ARMM, but to conduct elections for the said moribund bureaucracy is not only illogical but also a waste of resources, time, and energy. The more logical move is simply to cancel the said scheduled synchronized elections (as mandated by RA 10153) and allow the present officers in charge to continue in office until replaced by the BTA.
The newly contemplated Bangsamoro Government (BG) that would be organized post transitional phase is totally a different animal. It would be a “ministerial form” and the powers of this new government are vested in an Assembly elected by the peoples in the constituent units of the Bangsamoro. The Framework Agreement, and by inference also the Basic Law, would provide a new way of “choosing” leaders and members of the Assembly within the Bangsamoro in 2016.
What presently ails the Philippine government is the fact that its leaders think “linear.” People CANNOT continue to think “linear” while there is a groundswell for a new political entity aka Bangsamoro. The “reality” on the ground (through the courtesy of both the GPH and the MILF), is a new “consciousness” and a perception that the Bangsamoro is already “here.” The processes attached to its actual birthing are but necessary transitional phases that have to be undertaken.
In short, the ARMM May Elections are concocted by a linear mind, to say the least, and definitely a futile exercise, to say the worst. Either way, the whole exercise is “contra compass” and “out of tune.” It is high time to call off the “zarzuela.”