ARMM’s first x-mas party for non-Muslims could be the last PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 December 2014 11:39

Christian employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Tuesday bade each other goodbye in their first ever and probably last Christmas party in the ARMM’s 25-year history.

The emotion-filled gathering at the lobby Shariff Kabunsuan Complex in Cotabato City was held at the backdrop of the ARMM’s possible deactivation in 2015 to pave the way for the creation of a new Bangsamoro political entity the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is to govern.

The merry-making of non-Muslim employees of the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG), touted as ARMM’s “Little Malacañang,” was sponsored by Gov. Mujiv Hataman in keeping with his administration’s Muslim-Christian-lumad inclusivity governance policy.

It was the first ever Christmas party of Christian employees of the ORG since the inception of the regional government 25 years ago.

The event was one of the highlights of the month-long celebration of the ARMM’s 25th charter anniversary, which will end on December 19.

“I did not win any prize from the party raffle contest, but I’m happy just the same because the event made us, Christian employees, very happy,” said Doreen Tan, a senior aide of ARMM”s chief-of-staff, Amihilda Sangcopan.

The office of Sangcopan, an ethnic Tausog, is one of the ORG divisions where Muslim and Christian employees work as a family in an atmosphere of religious tolerance and cultural pluralism.

Tan is one of thousands now uncertain on whether they would be retained, or asked to retire once the ARMM is replaced with a new Bangsamoro political entity based on the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro between the government and the MILF.

There are more than 20,000 employees in the ORG and some 40 other line agencies and support offices under the ARMM government.

Hataman allayed the apprehensions of his immediate subordinates in the ORG by assuring them that the 75-member congressional committee tasked to legislate the creation of the Bangsamoro outfit will adhere to Philippine civil service laws in charting the administrative and political set-up of the proposed MILF-led political entity.

“The national government and the MILF, which is to govern that new Bangsamoro entity, both looks into the welfare of all ARMM career service employees based on existing civil service laws,” Hataman said.

Hataman and ARMM’s information directors, Amir Mawalil and Cris Gaerlan, also jointly hosted on Tuesday what could be their last fellowship gathering with Muslim, Christian and lumad journalists in Central Mindano.

Among the guests were reporters and disc jockeys of stations dxMS-AM and dxOL-FM of the vaunted Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation, which covers the southern peace process and the activities of the regional government and are owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, where Mindanao-based Orlando Cardinal Quevedo belong.

Hataman said he is grateful to journalists based in the autonomous region for their continuing coverage and prompt dissemination of his reform initiatives meant to address corruption, poverty and the nagging peace and security issues condoning underdevelopment in far-flung communities.

The region covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi.

Among Hataman’s first official acts after his assumption as appointed caretaker of ARMM in December 2011 was the enlistment of news reporters as observers to public bidding activities for infrastructure projects and procurement processes for equipment and other costly provisions needed by agencies that were known in the past as bastions of corruption.

He was elected as 8th regional governor of the autonomous region during the area’s May 13, 2013 regional elections, probably the last too if the Bangsamoro entity is established next year.

Hataman told reporters present in Tuesday’s media fellowship night to also cover extensively next year’s transition from the ARMM to the Bangsamoro entity, which he and members of the regional cabinet are now preparing for.