with Ali G. Macabalang
Before assuming their respective offices, appointed and elected officials in the countryside are required to undergo oath-taking to abide by the Constitution, which clearly mandates them to serve their people or clientele “without any mental reservation,” promote public welfare, and protect them from any form of harm and injustice.
They cannot renege on their expressed vows in formal pledging rites. To me, their failure to perform their vows in the form of advertent defiance or complacency constitutes a violation of their oaths of office and entitles the public to call for their dismissal from service.
In the case of the Muslim-dominated Bangsamoro region, appointed and elected countryside (municipal and village) leaders have additional duties as far as their being believers of Islam is concerned.
Islam requires every Muslim leader to teach and lead their people from doing away from what is unjust and evil.
Shortly after some 100 violent extremism-bound combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) occupied the market area of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao on May 8 and sowed panic among residents, Grand Mufti Mohammad “Abuhuraira” Udasan posted a message citing one or more Qur’an verses that oblige Muslims to “shun” people fomenting hatred or violence.
Udasan’s came almost simultaneously with the visit of President Duterte in Maguindanao’s 6th Infantry Headquarters on May 11, during which the Chief Executive prodded leaders in BARMM to resolve the BIFF unabated atrocities or else he would order a full-scale military action on areas having BIFF enclaves.
The Presidential warning was stern. Elected and appointed leaders in Maguindanao, particularly the towns or villages having BIFF enclaves should not take the warning lightly. The still painstaking vestiges of 2017 “full-scale” war used against extremist combatants of the Dawla Islamiya (Maute) and Abu Sayyaf groups should suffice for local leaders to do their dutiful works.
For years, I have advocated for village leaders and their well-meaning constituents to secure their communities from entry by lawless elements, especially the military-tagged “local terrorist” men from the BIFF, Abe Sayyaf or Dawla Islamiya.
The advocacy remains a byword, entailing no positive response.
The President, through the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Office of the Chief Minister in the case of the Bangsamoro region should exemplify true leadership in dealing with local leaders inattentive to duties.
I have maintained the belief that the presence of BIFF enclaves or combatants in some villages of Maguindanao is known to at least the barangay officials and their mayors.
President Duterte and Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim should dismiss from service all barangay or town officials in areas with continued presence of terror-fomenting rebels.
National and regional officials tolerating LGUs’ adamant attitude towards terror groups can also be blamed if they, too, fail to give an example of purging one or more mayors and barangays leaders who fail inreporting out the presence of BIFF combatants. AGM