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House hearing on ARMM's P28.4-B 2016 budget going smooth

 • 20:46 PM Wed Sep 30, 2015
John Unson
DPWH-ARMM Sec. Don Mustapha Loong raises a point during Tuesday’s congressional hearing on ARMM’s P28.4 billion budget for 2016. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY -- All was well in Tuesday’s congressional pre-plenary hearing on the proposed P28.4 billion budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for 2016, ARMM officials said Wednesday.Baintan Adil Ampatuan, director of the Regional Planning and Development Office, said members of the regional cabinet, led by ARMM’s chief executive, Gov. Mujiv Hataman, updated lawmakers on the accomplishments of their respective agencies during the hearing at the House of Representatives in Quezon City. All went well. We are thankful to all members of the House committee that handled the hearing,” Ampatuan said.Among those who provided the committee, chaired by Maguindanao Rep. Sandra Sema, insights on why the region needs a P28.4 billion budget next year were Don Mustapha Loong, Kadil Sinolinding, Jr., and John Magno, ARMM’s public works, health and education secretaries, respectively.Loong, an engineer by profession, had talked about the feats of the Hataman administration in carrying out its infrastructure agenda and its implementation of costly high-impact projects in far-flung areas the autonomous region in the past three years.Loong had also explained that all of their projects, meant to accelerate the socio-economic growth of ARMM and improve the productivity of the region’s peasant and fishery sectors, were implemented in utmost transparency.Hataman on Wednesday said he is optimistic Congress will approve without cut the region’s proposed budget for 2016. The budget is needed to sustain socio-economic activities intended to expedite the attainment of peace and development in fledgling, still underdeveloped areas in the autonomous region,” Hataman said.Hataman said it was only during his time when the region’s coffer was made open to scrutiny by the media and civil society organizations.The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.Magno’s presentation delved on the successful delisting by the Hataman administration of ghost teachers” from old payrolls of the regional education department, which proliferated during the time of past ARMM governors.Magno explained to the House committee how ARMM’s Department of Education enlisted thousands of licensed teachers in recent years through rigid written and practical entrance examinations to address the nagging illiteracy problem besetting the autonomous region.Magno had also told members of the committee, among them Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, representative of the 2nddistrict of Lanao del Sur, that they have cancelled the operation on papers” of non-existent schools that received periodic budgets from ARMM before Hataman became regional governor.Hataman said he was elated with how members of his cabinet made lawmakers understand, during the pre-plenary ARMM budget hearing, how his administration’s reform agenda, meant to professionalize the operations of the regional government, gained momentum in the past three years.The ARMM’s public works department, operating under Hataman and Loong’s joint supervision, and the Magno-led regional education agency were touted as the most corrupt agencies in the autonomous region during the time of past administrations.Also present in Tuesday’s ARMM budget hearing were Sulu Reps. Mariam Arbison and Tupay Loong, Lanao Sur Rep. Ansarudin Adiong, Anak Mindanao Partylist Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman and Assistant Secretary Tina Rose Marie Canda of the Department of Budget and Management.

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