Marawi engineering office reopened after operation lull

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • Thu Jan 4, 2018 02:29 PM  •  158   0
By John Unson
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 The reopened district engineering office in Marawi City.
The reopened district engineering office in Marawi City.
COTABATO CITY --- The operation of the Lanao del Sur First District Engineering Office in Marawi City is back to normal after a five-month shutdown due to conflict.

Officials of the regional peace and order council in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Thursday the Lanao del Sur 1st DEO reopened after New Year’s Day.

The DEO covers the more than 90 barangays and towns in the first district of the Lanao del Sur, which has two congressional districts.

Some P400 million worth of infrastructure projects in areas within the jurisdiction of the Lanao del Sur 1st DEO were suspended during the five-month siege of Marawi City by combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen.

Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares of the Police Regional Office-ARMM said Thursday he has directed the Lanao del Sur provincial police to help secure the reopened DEO.

The conflict-affected district engineering office operates under the joint ministerial control of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and his public works secretary, Engineer Don Loong.

“The Lanao del Sur provincial police office and the Marawi City police shall cooperate in securing the facility,” Mijares said.

Loong said personnel of the Lanao del Sur 1st DEO, most of them evacuees too, have reported for duty and are to render overtime services if necessary to cope up with work backlogs.

Hataman said employees need to beat the deadlines for ARMM’s high-ticket infrastructure projects in Marawi City and nearby towns.

The five-month hostilities in Marawi City left dozens of barangays in ruins and caused the dislocation of more than 300,000 villagers.

Hataman said his office and the Department of Public Works and Highways-ARMM will focus on the completion of more projects in 2018 in preparation for a possible transition soon from the present regional government to an envisioned Bangsamoro political entity.

The creation of the Bangsamoro outfit is a mutual consensus between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, reached after 17 years of talks.
The enabling measure for the replacement of ARMM with a more empowered Bangsamoro entity --- the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law --- is now awaiting approval by Congress.

Hataman said he is optimistic Congress will grant legislative imprimatur to the bill, which is to become the charter of an MILF-led Bangsamoro government.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in central Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Hataman and Loong both said the eight DEOs in the autonomous region were provided in 2017 with more heavy equipment to maximize the efficiency of each in implementing infrastructures projects complementing the socio-economic goals of the Mindanao peace process.

The equipment the ARMM government distributed to the DEOs in 2017 were comprised of three excavators, a road grader, three pay loaders, four dump trucks, three road rollers and three service vehicles.

Records obtained on Wednesday from state auditors overseeing spending of ARMM infrastructure funds showed that the regional government has constructed 1,587 kilometers of roads in the past five years.

Loong said the ARMM regional government has a P10 billion allocation from the national coffer for its 2018 infrastructure projects.

“An amount from this budget is earmarked for areas in the first district of Lanao del Sur. Our engineering personnel there are now ready to hit the road. They are back in harness after a lull in their normal operation due to an armed conflict,” Loong said.
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