P500M for model Moro villages
DAVAO CITY—The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has earmarked P500 million for 50 villages that will be showcased as model communities for the Bangsamoro, a new entity that will replace the ARMM if a final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is signed and a law creating the Bangsamoro is passed by Congress and approved by voters of the proposed Bangsamoro area in a plebiscite.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the region had identified 10 villages in each province in the ARMM, or one village in each town, to be used as a showcase of Moro self-rule.
The government will pour funds into these villages to build infrastructure and ensure the delivery of social services.
“We will make these barangays model communities,” he said. The ARMM has 2,400 barangay (villages).
Lawyer Laisa Alamea, ARMM executive secretary, said the program was part of the region’s preparations for the transition to the Bangsamoro, a new political entity provided in the draft framework agreement between the government and the MILF.
“The ARMM will infuse funding into the barangay. If there’s no barangay hall, no market, no shelter program, no covered court, we’re going to build them,” Alamea said.
“We are going to showcase all of these infrastructure,” she said.
Part of the program is the Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Security, and Synergy in the ARMM, which will make available basic and social services to the pilot communities.
Hataman said reforms in the ARMM had also helped generate savings and investments, and put in place a more stable peace and order situation.
From 2012 to 2013, the Department of Public Works and Highways in the ARMM was able to save at least P350 million, which will be used to purchase heavy equipment, Hataman said.
The Department of Education in the region was able to save at least P700 million, which will be used for teachers’ benefits, including payments for their Pag-Ibig, Government Service Insurance System and PhilHealth enrollment.
“When the teachers retire, they will receive a package,” Hataman said.
In his first few months in office, Hataman led the campaign against ghost employees in government offices and pushed for more transparency.
Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesperson of the military’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), said no hostilities were reported between government troops and MILF forces since 2012.
The ARMM government, along with the 6th ID, also helped resolve several clan feuds in the area, Hermoso said.
For 2014, Hataman said the focus of the ARMM would be investments and social services.
He said foreign investors were more interested in pouring their money into the region, particularly in the agriculture sector.
Investors from Malaysia and Singapore are looking at more than 5,000 hectares of agricultural land in Maguindanao province for oil palm plantations. Germelina Lacorte and Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao
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