My Legal Point
By Atty. Bayan G. Balt
Recently, two Muslim leaders were appointed by President Duterte to high position in the government, they are Lawyer Saidamen B. Pangarungan, appointed Chairman of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Abdullah D. Mama-o, appointed cabinet secretary of the newly created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). Pangarungan has a seven (7) year term or will serve till 2029. Under his watch are 2 presidential elections, 3 local elections and 3 Barangay elections or a total of 8 elections during his term. The Commission on Elections or COMELEC is the most powerful constitutional commission created in the 1997 Constitution whose Chairman can be removed only by impeachment, (Article XI, Section 2 of the Constitution). On the other hand, Lawyer Abdullah D. Mama-o was the first official appointed cabinet secretary in the newly created Department of Migrant Workers, whose charter is Rep. Act No. 11641 was signed on December 30, 2021 by President Duterte. It will serve as the executive department of the Philippine government responsible for the protection of the rights and promote the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and their families. While the latter position is co-terminus with the appointing authority, Secretary Mama-o will likely serve under the pleasure of the next elected president.
Previously, this column reported the educational, experience and or achievements of Saidamen B. Pangarungan, after his appointment as Elections Chief. Apart from an elected Assemblyman of the former ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly (1979) and elected provincial Governor of Lanao del Sur (1987), he also served as Undersecretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) during the Cory Aquino administration, his last stint in office before his appointment as Elections Chief was Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) from 2018 to March 2022.
Atty. Pangarungan as NCMF Chief.
As NCMF Chief, Pangarungan institutes reform in one of the most controversial and alleged corrupt agency of the government. Among others, (1). He reduced the Haj rate by at least 15-20% affordable by ordinary pilgrims, (2). He built five (5) Muslim’s cemeteries in metro manila and in other non-Muslim’s areas, (3). During pandemic, he mobilized his office to raise funds and distributed “Ayuda” to 200,000 Muslims families nationwide, (4). He activated his Legal assistance division of his office and rendered free legal services for thousands of Muslims detainees nationwide, especially detainees who has been languishing in jail due lack of lawyers to represent them in court, (5). He crackdown syndicate responsible for selling visas to foreigners (Indonesian or Malaysians) to the prejudice of Filipino Muslims pilgrims. Due to much needed reform introduced by Pangarungan, (6). The NCMF was issued “ISO” certification last year together with the office of the Vice President (OVP) for its compliance with the requirements set by the International Standard Organization (ISO).
Atty. Mama-o as Presidential Adviser on OFW and Muslim Concerns.
Lawyer Abdullah D. Mama-o likewise is a Lawyer by profession, a schoolmate of Pres. Duterte. After the elections in 2016, Pres. Duterte appointed Lawyer Mama-o as Presidential Assistant on OFW and Muslims Concern. Lawyer Mama-o was tasked to flew to Kuwait to meet with Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah. The two officials discussed the labor row between the Philippines and Kuwait. In February 2017, Mama-o was order to visit Saudi Arabia for a series of bilateral talks on boosting economic ties. He returned back to Kuwait after the Kuwaiti government expelled Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa over the alleged illegal rescues of OFWs there. All his foreign missions were reportedly successful.
“His experience and qualifications in labor and diplomatic negotiations, among others, as the Presidential Adviser on OFW concerns will be invaluable to his new position and to our migrant workers”, says Malacañang.
Verily, both Saidamen B. Pangarungan and Abdullah D. Mama-o are qualified to their respective jobs. It is expected that the powerful Commission on Appointment (CA) will give nod to their appointment. Ameen.
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Atty. Bayan G. Balt is the former Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015) Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement (RFSM) and President of the Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP).