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DPWH central office, ARMM cooperate on peace projects

 • 17:52 PM Fri Aug 28, 2015
John Unson
Undersecretary Hadji Emil Sadain of the national public works department (3rd from left) and ARMM officials discuss regional infrastructure concerns during a dialogue Thursday. (Jhon Unson)

COTABATO CITY -- Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the central office of the public works department have been holding management dialogues since June in support of the development agenda of the Southern Mindanao peace process.The latest group discussion between officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the autonomous region and Engineer Hadji Emil Sadain, undersecretary for foreign-funded projects of the DPWH central office, was held on Thursday in Cotabato City.Engineer Don Mustapha Loong, regional public works secretary of ARMM, said their meeting focused on infrastructure concerns besetting far-flung areas in the autonomous region.The autonomous region covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in Central Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, which are common bastions of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).Loong said in their management dialogue Thursday, Sadain gave them updates on the national government’s infrastructure agenda for the autonomous region and other areas covered by Malacanang’s Mindanao peace process, which aims to restore normalcy in conflict-torn areas.The ARMM government is presently implementing about P10 billion worth of infrastructure projects in its five constituent-provinces, funded out of the region’s 2013, 2014 and 2015 infrastructure subsidies.The DPWH-ARMM was voted as the autonomous region’s best agency in 2014 by a bloc of auditors and different civil society organizations, while Sadain was still its caretaker.Sadain, a career service executive, relinquished the stewardship of the DPWH-ARMM to Loong in June following his assumption as national public works undersecretary for foreign-funded projects.Loong said the main objective of their periodic dialogues with Sadain is to address the infrastructure needs in impoverished communities, in line with the bilateral government-MILF peace initiatives.Loong said all on-going projects of the administration of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman are parallel with the bilateral peace and socio-economic efforts of the rebel group and President Aquino. These projects were designed to expedite the generation of investment and livelihood opportunities in areas made poor by decades of secessionist conflicts,”Engineer James Mlok, chief of Maguindanao’s 2ndEngineering Office, said the efficient linkage between them and Sadain is a tacit indication of the national government’s commitment to the Mindanao peace process.The DPWH-ARMM was touted as the second most corrupt agency in the autonomous region, next to the regional education department, during the time of past administrations.The ARMM’s Department of Education was known in the past as hotbed of ghost teachers and non-existent schools that were conduits for anomalous releases of operating funds and subsidies for fictitious students.Mlok said Hataman, Loong and Sadain are just as concerned with the religious implementation of on-going projects of the 2ndMaguindanao DEO in areas where there are MILF enclaves.Among the current projects of Mlok’s office in Maguindanao are infrastructures in MILF bastions in Mamasapano town.The ARMM is presently implementing, through Mlok’s office, close to P100 million worth of infrastructure projects in Mamasapano and in nearby towns, designed to improve the productivity of local peasant communities and provide children easy access to public schools. These projects are being implemented in utmost transparency in keeping with the policy of strict accountability of the Hataman administration,” Mlok said.

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