A prominent election lawyer who supported President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. during the last elections defended the President against what he described as ‘forces feeding wrong information’ to the President, particularly on the issue of appointing new officials in Maguindanao Del Norte.
Atty. Manuelito Luna said that he was forced to come forward “out of malasakit” since the President is being misled, thus: “There were wrong information and advice to the President regarding Maguindanao del Norte former Vice Gov. and now Gov. Bai Aineee Sinsuat. Based on RA 11055, the former no. 1 provincial board member is now the vice gov. of Maguindanao del Norte.”
Under the Transition Law, particularly under Section 15, the vice governor should sit as acting governor of Maguindanao del Sur, he said, adding that there are reports that some quarters would not want the sitting governor and vice-governor to be in the position even if they have assumed their office and have discharged their functions already.
The lawyer added that there is already a ‘Notice of Allotment of DBM’ ang IRA amounting to P1.9 billion for Maguindanao del Sur and P1.8 billion for Maguindanao del Norte.
“News have it that the PNP leadership and DILG Sec. Benjamin Abalos, Jr. have already established two new PPOs, one in Maguindanao del Sur and one in Maguindanao del Norte, which recognized the two provinces. Why will you put up a PPO in Maguindanao del Norte if the assumption of Gov. Bai Aineee Sinsuat is not valid? Why will Gen. Azurin implement the order of SILG Abalos if such an order is not valid,?” stressed Luna.
He added:“Bakit ang mga empleyado ng Maguindanao del Norte ay naglilipatan na sa Maguindanao del Sur kung hindi valid ang pag-upo ng mga opisyal? I’m not favoring the officials down there, but I pity President Marcos for he already has many problems of the nation everyday.”
Luna also said that Republic Act 11055 mandates the Maguindanao officials to assume office in Maguindanao del Sur, otherwise, it would be dereliction of duty or they would be guilty of abandonment.
“For valid cause, the Comelec can suspend an election. Since Congress has not repealed RA11055, if the soon to be appointed officials would be allowed to assume office, there would be problem in governance. As the law has not been amended, hence, nobody can be appointed as officials of Maguindanao del Norte,” he explained.
“The residents of Maguindao del Norte will not allow two “sitting governors as this would created confusion. That’s why I’m forced to defend the President. The President deserves to have a balanced view. Huwag nating bigyan ng problema ang Pangulo, especially now that nagre-recover pa lang tayo mula sa pandemya.Tinutulungan ko si PBBM at VP Inday Sara out of volunteerism. I’m just a party to the 110 million Filipinos. It’s my duty to protect the President.” Luna said.
He bared information that there are forces trying to convince the President that if he does not appoint new officials in Maguindanao Del Norte, the peace process in the area will be disturbed.
“How could this affect the peace process when in fact, the peace process has already rolled out. There is already a law on the peace process.
The least we can do is to help the President as we have the problems in Negros Oriental and the higher prices of some agricultural products. ‘Tulungan nyo ako’ is what President Marcos has always appealed to the Filipino people, ” he said.
“I believe Executive Secretary former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile would wisely advice President Marcos, Jr. on the brewing problem in so far as Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte is concerned. He deserves (PBBM) all the support,” added Luna.
He pointed out that “based on the Administrative Code, di dapat ipatupad ng Presidente ang RA 11055, Section 50 na nagsasaad na ang mga incumbent officials of Maguindanao na naging Maguindanao del Sur ang siyang uupo sa Maguindanao del Norte. Ito ang basehan ng kapangyarihan ni Gov. Sinsuat na maupo sa tanggapan ng Maguindanao del Norte”.
Based on assumption of regularity, Luna said that the assumption into office of the Maguindanao del Norte officials and the notice of allotment of DBM are valid.
“The President should be defended and supported. The least that I can do is to express my view on the matter,” he said.