As the newly formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is at its critical juncture of establishing its foundation, hiring competent civil servants is one of its crucial tasks. The aim of the paper is to theorize a better hiring process for the Bangsamoro government. To realize the proposed objective, this study pursues a conceptual exploration of the notion of merit-based hiring process set by the Civil Service Commission standards. It clarifies what merit-based hiring means as opposed to a recruitment shaped by the padrino system. These two contradictory concepts provide ground for an assertion that a merit-based system should be advanced based on practical and moral grounds. Lastly, the paper notes the conceptual limitation of the merit-based hiring as it fails to address the moral question, which is critical in BARMM government. Grounded on Moral Governance Framework for BARMM, the paper enriches the concept of merit-based hiring in view of the five principles of faith, freedom, moral authority, common good, and social ethics. As a result, the study does not only set the vocabulary for a rational critique of the meritocracy and padrino system; but more importantly, it provides an initial attempt to concretize the moral governance framework as seen essential in setting the foundation of BARMM government.
Keywords: Civil Service, Merit, BARMM, padrino system, moral governance