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PNoy nurtured Muslim autonomy -- ARMM officials

 • 03:57 AM Wed Jul 29, 2015
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By: 
John Unson

COTABATO CITY --- President Benigno Aquino III will be remembered in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as the only chief executive in contemporary time to have sustained southern autonomy in a manner never done by predecessors, ARMM officials said.Regional executives on Tuesday said it was, in fact, only during the time of President Aquino where the five provinces of the autonomous region benefited from huge infrastructure packages past administrations had never extended since the ARMM’s inception in 1990.The ARMM was created 25 years ago through a plebiscite that resulted to the ratification of its first ever charter, the Republic Act 9054.The ARMM law got amended, to become R.A.9054, via a subsequent electoral exercise in 2001, which resulted to the inclusion of Basilan and Marawi City into the area of autonomy, which originally covered only Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces.Records obtained on Tuesday from the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways indicated that the region’s infrastructure subsidy increased by about ten folds in the past three years, from less than P10 billion from 2009 to 2011.The ARMM already has an approved P24 billion budget for 2016.Engineer Don Mustapha Loong, regional secretary of DPWH-ARMM, said they aim to accomplish the construction and rehabilitation of about a thousand kilometers of new and old roads in the region, respectively, in the next six months using allocations from the national government. We ought to thank the Aquino administration for its generosity and extensive support to our efforts to make the ARMM rise from poverty and underdevelopment,” Loong said.The autonomous region started with only a P615 million yearly infrastructure budget in 1990, divided into regional, provincial and district impact grants that were directly handled by the ARMM governor, the provincial governors and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly, respectively.As part of a grand reform initiative, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and President Aquino stopped the pork barrel” treatment of the infrastructure subsidy, resulting to the generation by the present regional leadership of more than P600 million worth of project funds from 2012 to 2013 alone.The ARMM is presently implementing more than P5 billion worth of infrastructure projects in the region’s five component provinces, designed with the help of experts from the Office of the President and the DPWH national central office. These projects are open to scrutiny by the media and civil society organizations in keeping with Gov. Hataman’s policy of transparency and accountability,” Loong said.ARMM’s regional executive secretary, Laisa Alamia, said it was also during President Aquino’s incumbency that the region had its Regional Human Rights Commission.Alamia, a human rights lawyer, said the outfit is essential in ensuring the protection of the rights of the ARMM’s tri-people,” which is comprised of Muslim, Christian and indigenous non-Islamic lumad communities.Hataman, whose office is now trying to secure an international organization standards certification, said they are grateful of Malacañang’s fiscal and technical support to their regional reform efforts. Infrastructure projects in the ARMM flourished during the time of President Aquino. The regional bureaucracy was professionalized during his presidency too,” Hataman said.Hataman said it was also during the Aquino presidency that the national government had forged two compacts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Oct. 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and theMarch 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro. These agreements aim to put a peaceful conclusion to the Moro rebellion in Mindanao,” Hataman said.Hataman, a political protégé of Aquino, first assumed as an appointed caretaker of ARMM in December 2011. He was elected as ARMM's sixth regional governor during the May 13, 2013 elections.Hataman on Tuesday reiterated his administration’s support to the approval by Congress of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aims to replace the ARMM with a new MILF-led political entity based on the group’s peace deal with the national government. As soon as the measure is enacted into law and ratified via a plebiscite, me and members of my regional cabinet will facilitate the transition from ARMM to the Bangsamoro entity,” Hataman said.Hataman said his administration will turn over to the MILF all of the ARMM’s manpower and fiscal resources once the new Bangsamoro government is established. And that will include whatever possible savings there may be in the coffers of all line agencies of ARMM, including my office,” Hataman said.

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