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ARMM execs back out of plan to revive pork version

COTABATO CITY–In an apparent bid not to further stir controversy amid the pork barrel scandal that has been hounding national lawmakers for weeks now, lawmakers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) backtracked on an earlier proposal to revive the regional version of the controversial discretionary fund system.

The efforts to restore the District Impact Project (DIP) allocations were confirmed twice by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

“Some assemblymen wanted allocations for their district impact projects  reinstated in the region’s public works act, passed yearly by the [Regional Legislative Assembly] (RLA),”  Hataman said on Thursday.

But RLA Speaker Datu Rony Sinsuat said members of the RLA-ARMM’s lawmaking body were now concurring with Hataman’s decision to abolish all discretionary infrastructure fund allocations.

Hataman abolished the DIP fund in 2011, along with his office’s Regional Impact Project (RIP) fund, in the wake of discoveries of ghost projects after one another all over the five-province autonomous region.

There were also reports at that time that the RIP and DIP funds have become the milking cow for many regional officials.

Aside from the two funds, Hataman has also removed the Provincial Impact Project (PIP) fund of the region’s five governors from the annual infrastructure budget.

In previous RLAs, the division of the fund for pet projects under the annual infrastructure budget had always been 30-percent RIP, 40-percent PIP and

30-percent DIP.

In an earlier interview, Hataman said he was talking with regional lawmakers to make them understand why the corruption-laden funds should not be restored in the annual regional budget anymore.

The ARMM legislature passes two annual budget laws, one for infrastructure and the other for operating and other expenditures, including salaries and wages.

Hataman said that if regional lawmakers would insist on allocating funds for their pet projects, he could always veto these.

Sinsuat said there were no renewed efforts now to restore the controversial fund for regional lawmakers or for  Hataman and provincial executives.

“Financial resources would instead be spent according to the expenditure programs of the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways,”  he said.

Lanao Sur Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, through his lawyer and spokesperson, Norodin Kasim, also agreed with Sinsuat’s position.

“No renewed efforts to revive the annual sponsorship by assemblymen in the spending of the region’s infrastructure subsidy,”  Kasim quoted Adiong as saying.

Adiong was among regional lawmakers who said he wished that their “constituents, through their representatives, would have participation in determining which projects can best help alleviate poverty in their communities.”

But he said “we do not need pork”  but just the assurance of public participation in project determination. Nash B. Maulana, Inquirer Mindanao

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Tags: ARMM , Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao , Discretionary Fund , Pork barrel

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