Maguindanao Norte: A powder keg?
MA. LOURDES TIQUIA
The Manila Times
ONE of the fundamental powM ers of our democracy is the separation of powers, a concept embedded in the Constitution to ensure a system of checks and balances. In recent times, though, the balance has been under severe strain. The most glaring indicaM tor of this constitutional crisis is the assault on the rule of law. Instances of executive overreach, attacks on the independence of the judiciary, and the growing disregard for the Constitution itM self have raised alarming red flags. The erosion of these foundational principles threatens the very esM sence of our democracy. Good governance is the “proM cess of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources and guarantee the realization of huM man rights in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption and with due regard for the rule of law.” It is an “organization’s diM rection, effectiveness, supervision and accountability. It demonM strates willingness and the ability to act in the organization’s best interests, ensuring the operation of effective, open and ethical proM cesses that adhere to the law and stand up to scrutiny.” Bad governance is the polar opposite of good leadership in the process of making decisions in government and business. Bad governance entails “systemic corM ruption and a lack of openness and accountability, arbitrary poliM cymaking, and the deception of those who are ruled.” Bad goverM nance occurs when governing enM tities refuse to listen to the voices of those they manage and are not willing to take responsibility for their conduct. By dismissing the voices of the people they lead, the governing body no longer hears or considers their ideas. Democratic governments emphasize accountM ability to ensure that the public is aware of what is going on and has a plan of action if something goes wrong. In turn, a lack of accountM ability breeds distrust between the two parties, leading to instability. The parties have an unfavorable connection as a result of doubt and uncertainty. So, when an officer in charge has been appointed as governor of the province of Maguindanao del Norte by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., setting aside Section 50 of Republic Act 11550 and rule of succession under Title II, Chapter 2, Section 44 of the Local GovernM ment Code of 1991, as amended by Republic Act 11054, otherwise known as the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” then we know the President is not getting the right advice from those who are supposed to take cognizance of the general supervision clause. Imagine the situation in the newly created province of MaguinM danao Norte. The issue of the apM pointment of a provincial treasurer has been pending since December 2022. If that has been pending since December 2022, that means salaries have been pending and public services are at a standstill for a newly created province, and this has been allowed by both the special assistant to the President and the presidential adviser on peace, reconciliation and unity, the two officials who have been orchestrating activities in the area, beginning with the designation of the Bangsamoro Transition AuM thority, the codes that have passed the parliament that need review because of constitutional issues, and most recently, the appointM ment of an officer in charge in the person of Abdulraof A. Macacua, chief of staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), through its Ministry of the Interior and Local GovernM ment, has taken the position that Macacua is the governor of MaM guindanao Norte as if he has the mandate to do so when, in fact, his powers emanate only from an appointment and not from the mandate of the people. “As far as the BARMM is conM cerned, there is only one governor in Maguindanao del Norte. There is someone assuming, but as far as we are concerned, Gov[ernor] Macacua is the only governor, as appointed by Pres[ident] Marcos, and his appointment has not been recalled,” it said. They have also arrogated the governorship when, in fact, Macacua is only an OIC. As the Civil Service CommisM sion clearly stated, “a designation in an acting capacity entails not only the exercise of the ministeM rial functions attached to the position but also the exercise of discretion since the person designated is deemed to be the incumbent of the position.”