COTABATO City, Philippines - Members of the regional cabinet of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are planning to file their individual courtesy resignations soon to enable governor-elect Mujiv Hataman to freely choose people who can help him manage the affairs of the regional government.


Hataman, who has been at the helm of the regional government since December 2011 as a caretaker, clinched his official mandate after winning the regional gubernatorial post in the recently-concluded elections.


Lawyer Makmod Mending Jr., who is Hataman’s local government secretary, said they might start filing their resignations by middle of June in anticipation of the regional governor's assumption to office as duly elected regional governor on July 1.


“We want the RG (regional governor) to have a free hand in putting up a cabinet that could help him put ahead his reform agenda for ARMM and his projects meant to hasten Malañang’s Mindanao peace process,” Mending said.


Mending, who is of Maguindanaon descent, said he is certain Hataman will put up a cabinet comprised of people from all of the ARMM’s five provinces to ensure “inter-tribal representation” in the executive department of the region.


As elected ARMM governor, Hataman will exercise ministerial control over about 40 agencies devolved by the national government and other support offices and special outfits established to function as service facets of the autonomous region.


The Office of the Regional Governor (ORG) is touted in fact as “Little Malacañang” of ARMM, owing to its administrative and ministerial control over many public offices and departments.


“Our main concern now, the co-terminus regional secretaries, is how to be of help to the gradual transition from the present ARMM to the Bangsamoro entity the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are to put up before the 2016 elections,” Mending said.


The MILF and the government peace panels will replace the ARMM with a Bangsamoro entity based on the Oct. 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.


ARMM Natural Resources Secretary Kahal Kedtag, whose appointment was confirmed early this year by the Commission on Appointments of the 27-member Regional Legislative Assembly, said they will respect the decision of Hataman if he will replace his present secretaries and the chiefs of support offices under the ORG.


“We serve at the pleasure of the governor and the millions of people he represents as elected leader of the autonomous region. We are ready for possible `changing of the guards’ in the regional government,” Kedtag said.