No pork barrel for ARMM legislatorsPhilippine Daily Inquirer
COTABATO CITY—Members of the legislative body of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have effectively given up the region’s version of pork barrel which could have given the officials power to allot funds for their pet projects.
Mujiv Hataman, acting governor of ARMM, signed into law the region’s Public Works Act in the presence of all 24 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) on Tuesday.
The Public Works Act scrapped the district impact funds (DIP) which were previously under the full control of RLA members and were a source of corruption just like their national counterpart, Priority Development Fund, which allots funds for pet projects of senators and congressmen.
The DIP provision in the region’s annual public works law has been adopted by all ARMM leaders since 1993, said Hataman.
Instead of RLA members deciding which projects in their districts are priority, this task will now go to the region’s public works department, local civil society groups, people’s organizations and local government units, Hataman said.
“The bidding process will be made open to the public,” said the acting governor. Bidding will be witnessed by observers from civil society groups and media.
Hataman said the new regional law requires checking if local governments were capable of implementing their own infrastructure projects.
Should LGUs have no capability to build their infrastructure projects, they would receive help from the Army engineering battalion, said Hataman, a former party-list representative appointed by President Aquino to oversee reform efforts in ARMM.
The national government transfers at least P2 billion for infrastructure projects in ARMM every year under Republic Act No. 9054, or the Expanded Autonomy Law, which serves as the region’s Charter.
Another regional law that Hataman signed along with the new Public Works Act was one that establishes an independent human rights body in ARMM.
Hataman said the human rights body would help reduce the number of cases of human rights violations in the region, which are often committed in the course of the campaign against Moro rebels.
Zia-ul Haq Adiong, Lanao del Sur assemblyman and author of the law creating the human rights body, said the human rights body affirms the region’s adherence to national and international laws protecting human rights.
Rasol Mitmug Jr., RLA speaker, said the law becomes the Philippines’ “first operational charter of an independent human rights body that is passed into law by a legislative body.”
The creation of the Commission on Human Rights was made through an executive order issued by the late President Corazon Aquino in 1987. Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao