BARMM chief: Respect SC ruling on Maguindanao Norte treasurer

By Benjamin Pulta

August 14, 2023, 2:23 pm

<p>Bangsamoro Government Center <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Bangsamoro Government Center (File photo)

MANILA – The Bangsamoro Government in Cotabato City, through its Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, said it is fully committed to support the rule of law in light of the Supreme Court (SC) decision to appoint a provincial treasurer for the newly formed province of Maguindanao del Norte.

In a statement dated Aug. 13, 2023, the Bangsamoro Government “reiterates its respect to democracy, justice and the rule of law in light of the Supreme Court decision on the mandamus case pertaining to the designation of the provincial treasurer of Maguindanao del Norte, and published interpretations of the case on social media.”

“We firmly respect the independence of the judiciary and the finality of its decisions, subject to the observance of the principles of due process. We believe that in the course thereof, responsible parties must refrain from resorting to acts that may misinterpret, pre-empt, or undermine the substantial certainty of the high court’s decision.”

It added that it has not yet officially received an official copy of the decision and intends to immediately file a motion for reconsideration upon formal receipt of the decision.

“The Office of the Solicitor General will act accordingly upon receipt of an official copy of the decision,” Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said in another statement.

Still, Ebrahim called on his fellow Bangsamoro leaders “to remain responsible and modulate their actions as we endeavor to resolve this controversy with minimal or no disruption to public service.”

“We further call on concerned parties to exercise restraint as we work together in addressing and resolving issues arising from ongoing and pending legal proceedings,” he stated.

“Finally, we call on all Bangsamoro people, regardless of political belief, to ensure the dissemination of accurate information so as not to cause further confusion and unrest in the affected areas of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” he added.

The Supreme Court earlier ruled to grant the petition of Maguindanao del Norte to have a provincial treasurer following the division of Maguindanao into two provinces late last year.

The decision ordered the regional office of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) to process the appointment of any qualified person designated by the local government unit as provincial treasurer.

The ruling affirmed the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the high tribunal in April requiring the BLGF regional office to act on the designation.

"Here, we cannot allow the newly created province of Maguindanao del Norte to be crippled without its provincial treasurer who discharges the vital task of managing the fiscal affairs of the province as the same affects the entire operation of the local government unit," the SC ruled. "Prompt action by the court is thus necessary and exigent in this situation."

In February, then-acting governor Fatima Ainee Sinsuat filed the petition before the SC to designate Badorie Alonzo or any qualified person designated by the newly formed province as provincial treasurer.

Maguindanao was divided into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur following a plebiscite in September 2022.

Former Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces chief Abdulraof Macacua and former Maguindanao vice governor Sinsuat were appointed governor and vice governor of Maguindanao del Norte, respectively, by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in June.

Although the province has since received national tax allotment, it was not able to disburse the funds since it has no treasurer, a required signatory.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is composed of Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. (PNA)