Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nene: Allow Alonto-Adiong to assume top ARMM post

Wednesday, 09 December 2009 21:39

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SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said on Wednesday the government should not allow a leadership vacuum in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by following the order of succession in the absence of Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, who was placed under military custody for his alleged involvement in the massacre of 57 civilians in Maguindanao.

Otherwise, he warned that the lack of head in the ARMM may give the military an excuse to take over in view of the existing martial law in Maguindanao.

Pimentel urged Vice Gov. Ansaruddin Alonto-Adiong to immediately sit as acting governor of ARMM even without a formal designation order from MalacaƱang to prevent unnecessary disruption of operations of the autonomous government.

“Do not wait for a designation from higher authorities because, according to law, you automatically become the acting governor in the event the regional governor is rendered incapable of discharging his duties,” the senator from Mindanao said.

Pimentel, principal author of the ARMM organic act, said the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao has no bearing whatsoever on the order of succession in the autonomous region as provided by law.

He cited a statement of Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno that with the arrest of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and other members of the Ampatuan clan who are holding local government posts in connection with the massacre, they will be automatically succeeded by the next-in-rank in accordance with the order of succession in the local government units and the ARMM.

Pimentel said he understands that certain local officials in Maguindanao are hesitant to take over the vacant posts in deference to the Ampatuans, who may be offended by their takeover.

Pimentel said if Vice Governor Adiong does not want to assume the ARMM governorship, that means he is forfeiting his right in favor of the next official in the succession line—the Speaker of the Regional Legislative Assembly.

Adiong informed the Senate that he wanted an audit of the ARMM finances to be completed first before assuming the governor’s post. However, Pimentel said the vice governor can already assume the position while the audit is going.   Any further delay in the assumption of acting governor will only reinforce the impression that the autonomous region is in a state of disarray, he said.

 Early polls urged

VICE President Noli “Kabayan” de Castro called for the holding of early elections in Maguindanao, amid the tension brought by the recent massacre and imposition of martial law in the province.

He believes that in order to have fair and honest elections, Comelec should closely supervise the conduct of elections and assure peaceful and orderly voting with the help of the military and the police.

De Castro also asked the poll body to carefully check and study as well, similar poll hot spots where there are known warlords.

“I am sure the military and the government know who these people are. The areas they rule over should also be considered for early voting.”

He also urged the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), the Comelec-accredited citizen’s arm for 2010 polls, to join calls for the holding of advanced voting in Maguindanao and other poll hot spots one month before the scheduled election.

‘Solid North’ support for Gibo gaining ground

 MAJOR political leaders from Cagayan to Isabela to Ilocos Norte became the first provinces of the Ilocano-speaking Solid North to rally support for Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., calling him the country’s “best hope” in the race to the presidency in the 2010 elections.

Following a visit to Tuguegarao City on Tuesday, Teodoro impressed provincial leaders and their constituents with his program of government and bold quality of leadership, according to Cagayan Gov. Alfaro “Boy” Antonio.

 Antonio said the province’s city and town mayors needed little convincing to throw their support behind the ruling party’s standard-bearer.

 Teodoro, a three-time representative of Tarlac’s Third District, is the only Ilocano-speaking candidate in the presidential race.

 Earlier, the two dominant political clans in Isabela, another Region 2 province, threw their support behind Teodoro, while Ilocos Norte Gov. Michael Keon led a major group of political leaders who took their party oath under Lakas-Kampi-CMD and pledged support for Teodoro’s presidential bid.

Governor Antonio, Vice Gov. Bobby Fausto and city Mayor Delfin Ting hosted the Lakas-Kampi-CMD candidate on his recent visit.

Teodoro, in his acceptance of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD nomination, unveiled a program to modernize the country’s education system, improve the Filipinos’ entrepreneurial skills, create a comprehensive medical-care system so that the marginalized sector can avail themselves of quality medical services, and devote more resources to the Philippines’ research-and-development programs to put the country back on the technological road map.

Teodoro also vowed to fight poverty, build more infrastructure and launch wide-ranging reforms to fast-track the country’s modernization drive.

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