ARMM is NOT Autonomous

It is now final and “official” – the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is NOT autonomous.

Of course, people already know that ARMM is nowhere near being autonomous. It has always been run under the auspices of Malacanang. Even when it was run by a presumably independent Misuari, it could not do much because it (ARMM) did not have the necessary powers and budget.

But now, the Supreme Court itself has explained in no uncertain terms that the ARMM is NOT autonomous.

This is from the MILF site (

Supreme Court rules with finality: ARMM is not Autonomous

November 7, 2011 – The Philippine Supreme Court, in its final decision on the law postponing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) election to allow for synchronization with the national elections in 2013, has confirmed that it is not really autonomous but an administrative unit of government.

In its 59-page decision, the Supreme Court had settled this long lingering issue whether the ARMM is autonomous or not, to wit:

“Under the Philippine concept of local autonomy, the national government has not completely relinquished all its powers over local governments, including autonomous regions.  Only administrative powers over local affairs are delegated to political subdivisions.  The purpose of the delegation is to make governance more directly responsive and effective at the local levels.  In turn, economic, political and social development at the smaller political units are expected to propel social and economic growth and development.  But to enable the country to develop as a whole, the programs and policies effected locally must be integrated and coordinated towards a common national goal.  Thus, policy-setting for the entire country still lies in the President and Congress.”

The Decision continued: “the autonomy granted to the ARMM cannot be invoked to defeat national policies and concerns. Since the synchronization of elections is not just a regional concern but a national one, the ARMM is subject to it; the regional autonomy granted to the ARMM cannot be used to exempt the region from having to act in accordance with a national policy mandated by no less than the Constitution.”

The 8-7 decision is considered a victory for President Aquino, who incessantly pushed for the law, and it also authorizes the President to appoint Officers-In-Charge (OICs) to replace incumbent ARMM officials.

Under Republic Act No. 10153, which was passed by Congress on June 6 and signed by the President on June 30, the ARMM election would be pushed back 2 years to coincide with the 2013 national elections. The ARMM election was supposed to be held in May 2011. According to the Supreme Court ruling, it is within the power of Congress to synchronize the elections. With the decision, the appointment of OICs was deemed constitutional.

Commenting on this, one youth leader in Cotabato City, who requested anonymity, urged the government to stop referring to the ARMM as “autonomous”, saying it is an insult to the English language since it is all pack of lies.

“Only the name is autonomous but the powers of the ARMM are even less than that of province or city,” he explained.

Meantime, one member of the MILF peace panel secretariat, who refused to be named, considered the decision of the Supreme Court as a blessing in disguise, saying it gives the MILF more reasons to ask for the “parking of the ARMM” while a new entity is  taking shape.

He said only people with exclusive motive is for himself will have the gut to serve the ARMM.

He did not elaborate.


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