MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is expected to beat the appointments ban to designate the 15 members of the Transition Commission that will draft the Basic Law and will pave the way for the establishment of a Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.
Reliable sources revealed that the government is now preparing and vetting the list of appointees to the commission since the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) already forwarded the names of its eight nominees to the body.
Palace insiders hinted that the names of the members of the Transition Commission – as per Executive Order 120 – will be made before the March 29 appointments ban takes effect, in compliance with Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution 9385.
Section 261 (G) of the Omnibus Election Code provides that government is barred from making any “appointments or hiring of employees, creation or filling up of new positions, promotion or salary increases” from March 29 to May 13 of this year.
There shall also be no “transfer or movement of officers and employees from civil service” – just like the entire duration of the gun ban – from Jan. 13 to June 12 of this year, in anticipation of and after the conduct of the midterm elections.
A portion of EO 120 reads: “The Commission may sit en banc or constitute itself into divisions, as it may deem necessary for the speedy, effective and efficient performance of its functions.”
According to the EO, the commission will move forward the “comprehensive peace process agenda in Mindanao,” which is necessary for the achievement of “real and inclusive regional and national development goals.”
Of the 15-man body tasked to craft a measure that will be sent to Congress for the creation of a Bangsamoro region, eight will be representatives from the Muslim side, while the remaining seven will be from government.
The commission will recommend a draft bill to Congress creating the Bangsamoro.
Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles said Muslims can lobby with the congressmen, which is legal, and coordinate with them on how to write a law for themselves.
In turn, Congress will then deliberate on the Bangsamoro Basic law, which will govern the residents in the area but will be bound by the 1987 Constitution that will remain under the national government.
The commission, according to former chief government negotiator and now Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen, will hold all-inclusive consultations in the affected areas to know the pulse of the people in the proposed Bangsamoro.
Leonen said that the Autonomous Region in the Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will continue to exist until a new law is crafted by Congress.
The Bangsamoro region is expected to be carried out within the term of President Aquino.
Officials of the Bangsamoro will be joining the May 2016 synchronized elections.
The Basic Law of the Bangsamoro will have to be ratified before President Aquino steps down in 2016. The Chief Executive, according to Deles, will certify as “urgent” the measure that will establish Bangsamoro region.
More appointments to come?
To beat the appointments ban, there are also reports that Aquino may implement and include a minor shakeup in some agencies of government, particularly for those legislators who are on their third and last terms in Congress, or fill up vacancies in some offices.
Rumors also have it that House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada – now on his last term – will either replace director general Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) or be administrator of the National Food Authority (NFA).
Tañada, who represents Quezon province, has reportedly been endorsed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala – a provincemate – to succeed former NFA chief Angelito Banayo, who is running for Congress.