ARMM workers’ fate up in the air

CSC unsure 23,000 employees can keep their jobs

THE Civil Service Commission has admitted that it is powerless in the eventuality that most, if not all, of the 23,000 employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will find themselves jobless once the Bangsamoro political entity has been put in place.

CSC Commissioner Robert Martinez made the admission before the House ad hoc committee deliberating on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and said the passage of the law removes the assurance of security of tenure for ARMM employees.

Once the new local government that will replace the existing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is in place, that may mean that some, if not all, ARMM offices may be abolished and it can adopt its own standards in the selection of its employees.

But Martinez clarified that affected employees may apply for other positions if their posts and offices would be abolished. Of the 23,000 ARMM employees, 18,000 of these are teachers, he said.

Martinez’ admission supported the finding of the Senate committee on local governments during a public forum at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City that ARMM workers may be displaced in the new Bangsamoro government bureaucracy.

Dr. Pearlisa Dans, chairperson of Regional Executives and Assistant Secretary of Armm, said that around ARMM personnel are concerned about the effect of the law’s passage on their jobs although the matter is being discussed by a transition committee.

But Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local governments, said the rights of state workers will be considered in the crafting of the BBL.

“[State workers] cannot just be removed or replaced unceremoniously without a CSC directive,” Marcos said.

Marcos assured various stakeholders that the Senate will listen intently to all views and recommendations pertaining to the BBL.

“We are now getting into the details of this proposed law and we want to make sure that at the end of this process, the committee will be able to report out a measure that would ensure just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” Marcos said.

“It is our role to study all of these details so that we can achieve our goal of bringing about lasting peace not only in Mindanao but also for the country,” Marcos said.

“The Senate will have to decide with prudence on what’s best for the Bangsamoro without prejudice to other Filipino citizens,” Marcos said, noting that the BBL is also crucial and essential for all Mindanao inhabitants.

He said the Senate will ensure that the provisions of the BBL witll jibe with existing laws “with probably some modifications from the existing Local Government Code under an envisioned ministerial form of government.”

Moreover, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government panel that negotiated the peace pact that will give birth to the BBL, said the abolition of offices would happen gradually and employees to be affected will be given compensation.

Another government negotiator, Senen Bacani, said the possible displacement of jobs is “not the intention of the BBL” and the leadership that will replace ARMM will not allow workers to lose their jobs.

During the Senate hearing, Marcos said concerns were also raised on the annexation to Bangsamoro of 39 barangays of North Cotabato and on the possibility of gerrymandering the new parliamentary districts.

Under the draft BBL, the 39 barangays in the towns of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap in North Cotabato that voted for inclusion in the ARMM will be considered Bangsamoro core territories.

But North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou J. Taliño-Mendoza noted that some of the barangays are not even contiguous to Bangsamoro territories.

Moreover, Mendoza exprssed concern that the BBL allows a barangay to choose to join the Bangsamoro even if it is not even contiguous with Bangsamoro territory.

If the province where that barangay is located has peace and order problems, it will be stymied in helping out the barangay even if if it is geographically within the province, Mendoza said.

Marcos said there were indeed “gray areas” in the bill and these also need to be threshed out with stakeholders.

“It is very unusual for us to be constrained by a previous agreement, therefore the committee also seeks guidance from various stakeholders on how to address administrative and technical concerns raised by some sectors,” he said.

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