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Candao as ARMM OIC Governor?


Former ARMM Regional Governor Zacarias Candao has openly expressed his willingness to help the administration of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to institute the needed reforms in the ARMM governance.

Although, Candao did not personally signify his interest  to return to the ARMM, he articulated that he is ready to help.

Candao was in the city during the public forum held in one of the local hotel here called by the Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi  (BASULTA) constituents composed of multi-sectoral groups including the tri-peoples in the Southern island of the autonomous region.

Candao joins the call for the proposed postponement of the autonomous regional elections scheduled in August this year, saying that the best time to reform the ARMM is to give the opportunity for the president to focus on fulfilling the realization of the on-going peace initiative with the rebels groups in order to attain peace in Mindanao.

Candao said by postponing the holding of elections in the ARMM, it will give enough time and space for both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and GRPh peace panels to strike a deal in the on-going peace negotiation and possible conclude a lasting peace accord.

The former regional governor noted the full support of the government of the United States of America in the peace negotiation between the GRPh and the separatist rebel group, which he said could enhance and hasten a final peace deal.

The roundtable peace talks by the two panels brokered by Malaysia and other Organization of Islamic Councries  will resume in April this year.

He urged GRPh and MNLF to take advantage of the support of the U.S. in finding a genuine, peaceful and lasting solution to the Mindanao conflict.

“I lauded the interesting concern of the United States government in trying to assist in the resolution of the conflict here in Mindanao. With the poll postponement, Pres. Pnoy would be able to concentrate giving utmost priority on the peace efforts of his administration, said Candao.

Candao, who spearheaded the launching of the Islamic Party of the Philippines (IPP) during the consultation, held Sunday afternoon stressed the need for the ARMM constituents to stay united to rally behind Pnoy in his sincerest desire to establish peace and development in the Southern island.
When asked in a separate interview over DXMR-Radyo ng Bayan, if he is willing to accept in case the President will appoint or choose him as Officer in Charge  (OIC) of the ARMM government, the lawyer  and former governor said, “ it is up for the president to decide, we will give him all the opportunity to make his choice. And if he chooses me, how can I refuse the President?” Candao indicated.

“There are so many ways to help the administration of Pnoy, and to be chosen to help in that capacity as OIC would be a great opportunity and a challenge,” according to Candao.

The proposed House Bill number 4146, which calls for the deferment of the polls authored in the House of Representatives, was approved by the House committees on suffrage and electoral reforms and Muslim affairs on Feb. 22, amid opposition from several lawmakers from Mindanao.

Under the bill, incumbent ARMM officials shall hold office on until September this year with President Aquino having the authority to appoint OIC’s until new officials shall have been elected following the synchronized local and national elections election in 2013. 

He said his vast experiences as the first ARMM governor and as former Maguindanao governor,  civil leader, freedom fighter and a participant in the 1986 “people power” revolution that catapulted Pres. Pnoy’s mother, the Philippine icon of democracy,  the late Pres. Corazon Aquino to power, he is ready to accept the offer.

Many believed that if Candao was able to continue what he had started as first ARMM governor and was given the chance to serve the autonomous government another term, things could have been different and probably what we have now is a vibrant and a better ARMM.

Devolutions of various major departments begun during Candao’s stint, while trying to nurture ARMM in its infancy, he was pre-occupied confronting an electoral protest lodged by his opponents in the COMELEC.

However,  despite the limitations, political observers said Candao had led the ARMM in a “very professional and statesman manner” that he gained the special trust and recognition of the late Pres. Corazon Aquino as well as,  the appreciation and respect of his constituents, particularly, those in the BASULTA area.

Another party consultation forum is scheduled in Marawi City on March 27, where the former ARMM highest regional official would be meeting with other ARMM constituencies and stakeholders.

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