MANILA, Philippines – Acting Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman was acclaimed by the Senate for his reforms in the region and was urged to run as governor in next year’s election.
Senator Loren Legarda said during a Senate budget committee hearing Monday that she admired Hataman’s political will in declaring and enforcing a total logging ban in the region.
“I admire that you declared that, but setting a policy and implementing it are two different matters. How did you implement it without asking for additional budget?” she said.
Hataman replied saying that he tapped the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to conduct checkpoints and seizing all logs whether from natural areas or private tree farms. He said it did not require large amount funds other than giving financial assistance to the security forces.
He said they were able to paralyze the loggers for at least three months with at least 83,000 hot logs seized since he was appointed in January of this year.
The problem they encountered was that small ordinary tree farmers had to be given alternative means of livelihood. Hataman said that they were able to solve this through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) National Greening Program, which employed the tree farmer.
Legarda lamented that in other regions and provinces, lack of funding was the main excuse for not implementing a log ban. She also lauded Hataman’s effort in ridding the region of “ghost employees, ghost projects, and ghost teachers.”
Senator Franklin Drilon told Hataman to also look into at least P1.7 billion GSIS premiums collected from teachers that were not remitted. He said he even allocated P500 million to the region in the previous year so that the issue can be fixed. Hataman told Drilon that he will conduct further investigation into the matter because the teachers will not be able to get their benefits from GSIS since the premiums were not remitted.
Legarda told Hataman: “We support you on that and I hope other regions and provinces can follow suit as well.”
“If it can be done in ARMM it can be done in all provinces in the country because ARMM is where it is most difficult to implement anything,” she said.
When asked by Drilon if he has plans to run as governor of the region, Hataman, who is currently serving as officer-in-charge, said he does not have any plans to run.
Legarda told Hataman that “it would be unfortunate if you do not run and if you do not continue the good deeds you [have been] doing … for your good advocacies.
Hataman replied: “At least the Muslims will become educated, they can compare all the governors and see that reform and change is still possible.”