Celso: ‘We want ARMM to succeed’ PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 16:53

Mayor Celso Lobregat expressed hopes and prayers that the 5 provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will achieve peace and prosperity, as he welcomed the conduct of the regional forum to screen candidates for appointment by the president as officers-in-charge of the region.

“Questions have been asked why the forum is being held in Zamboanga when the city is not part of the ARMM and our position has always been consistent that we do not want to be part of the ARMM,” the mayor candidly said in his welcome message during the forum spearheaded by Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who chairs the Screening Committee.

However, he said, people have to realize that whatever peace and order problems or whatever happens in the areas under the ARMM will affect Zamboanga City, Mindanao and the entire country.

“All of us wish to see the day that there is peace and progress in the ARMM and we would like to see the day that all these activities can be held in the ARMM,” the mayor emphasized.

He said there are various reasons why Zamboanga was chosen as venue for the forum by the national government through the Department of Interior and Local Government. One, he said, Zamboanga is the center of Western Mindanao and for media exposures or publicities it is best that such activities be held in the city and second, Zamboanga is a neutral ground  for the candidates. “But for me, one very important reason is t hat whatever happens in the two cities and five provinces of the ARMM, also affects the entire Mindanao and the entire country”.

Mayor Lobregat stressed that Zamboanga opens its doors to the participants to the forum even as he admitted that extra security measures are in place to ensure that the activity will be held without hitches.

He hoped that the forum will be successful and that the screening committee will be blessed with guidance so it can make the appropriate and necessary short list of candidates.

Robredo in conducting the forum at the UZ Summit Center in Tetuan was in the company of two other members—Sec. Yasmin Lao of the Civil Society Organization and Sulu Governor Sakur Tan. He also brought along with him his assistant Secretary Nariman Ambulodtu.

Other officials present during the forum were Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde, Directorate for Police Integrated Operations-Western Mindanao (DIPO-WM) chief P/CSupt. Felicisimo Khu, Police-9 Regional Director PC/Supt. Elpidio de Asis, ARMM Police Regional Director PC/Supt. Bienvenido Latag, DILG-9 Director Paizal Abutazil and DILG-ARMM Director Ruby Sahi.

A total of 17 nominees—7 for OIC Governor, 8 for OIC Vice Governor and 2 for OIC Regional Legislative Assemblyman presented their platforms and programs and how they intend to accomplish all these if and when selected for the position.

Sec. Robredo said the committee has until today, Sept. 20 to submit its shortlist of nominees to President Aquino, based on Executive Order 51.
The Zamboanga event yesterday was the final leg of the public forum intended to allow the public to participate in the screening or selection process on the shortlist.

The forum was held despite the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Court on Republic Act 10153 which  moved the August 8, 2011 elections in the ARMM to synchronize it with the national mid-term polls on May 13, 2013 and allowing the President to appoint OICs who shall serve the ARMM from noon of Sept. 30, 2011 to June 30, 2013.

Sec. Robredo said while awaiting the final decision of the Supreme Court, the government has agreed to complete the process. — Sheila Covarrubias