ARMM says it’s keeping ‘ghosts’ off payrolls



COTABATO CITY—The ghosts that haunted the coffers of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and siphoned off hundreds of millions of pesos in public funds allotted for the region are slowly disappearing, according to ARMM officials.

Quoting a Commission on Audit report, Jamal Kulayan, the region’s education secretary, said 40 more names of ghost, or nonexistent teachers had been stricken off the ARMM payroll, saving the region millions of pesos.

With a work force of 18,000 to 23,000 teaching and nonteaching personnel, the region’s education department gets the lion’s share in the ARMM’s annual budget.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the removal of ghost teachers from the regional payroll would eventually translate to annual savings of about P30 million.

He said an investigation is also ongoing and that several persons had been identified behind the ghost teacher scam.

Hataman said among those involved in the scam are people, who had “caused the inclusion of imagined” teachers, students and schools in the regional budget.

He would not name names but Kulayan said among those involved are active ARMM employees or officials. He said at least “10 criminal and administrative charges” would be filed against the suspects.

Hataman said to prevent a recurrence of the scam, the regional government is putting in place several measures, like assigning so-called learners’ reference numbers (LRN) to students, similar to the practice at the University of the Philippines of assigning permanent student numbers. Nash B. Maulana, Inquirer Mindanao

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