Hataman to report ‘last’ SORA Monday PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 30 November 2014 15:04

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will give a “vote of confidence” to the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) in his state of the region address (SORA) on Monday even as the proposed law would eventually boot him out of power.

The bill, now in Congress, is the enabling measure for the replacement of ARMM with a more politically and administratively empowered Bangsamoro entity the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) shall manage based on its final peace compact with government.

The draft BBL is expected to be enacted into law by first quarter of 2015 and, subsequently, ratified through a plebiscite by voters in its proposed core territory, the five provinces of ARMM and dozens of predominantly Moro villages in surrounding provinces outside of the autonomous region.

Hataman will deliver his December 1 SORA in the ARMM’s newly-refurbished Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City, rehabilitated for the first time in 25 years using savings from public funds generated in the past two years.

Though a yearly activity of the 24-seat Regional Assembly, which is touted as the region’s “Little Congress” Hataman’s 2014 SORA, which could be the last a duly elected regional governor will deliver, will also cap off the on-going month-long celebration of the 25th founding anniversary of ARMM.

The surroundings of the venue of Hataman’s SORA is dotted with mock Maguindanaon, Yakan, Tausog, Samah, and Maranaw tribal villages, established to showcase the ethnicity of the ARMM’s culturally-pluralistic communities.

The model tribal enclaves, depicting the customs and traditions of local Moro, Christian and non-Islamic indigenous folks, are among the many highlights of the region’s 30-day anniversary feast, which started last November 17.

No fewer than 25,000 people, including teachers and school children, had flocked to the 32-hectare ARMM compound to see the tribal villages, after having been opened for public viewing last week.

The region’s Bureau of Public Information (BPI) declined to reveal the details of Hataman’s SORA, but hinted about possible mention of his accomplishments in reforming the regional bureaucracy.

BPI employees said the SORA will also likely underscore feats of the Hataman administration in implementing costly infrastructure projects using funds from the national coffer.

“It was only during this administration that people have seen infrastructure projects rise like mushrooms in all four corners of ARMM, benefiting the region’s `tri-people,’ which is comprised of Moro, Christian and indigenous non-Islamic groups,” said Amir Mawalil, ARMM’s information director.

Vice-Mayor Roderick Furigay of Lamitan City, capital of Basilan, said they are grateful to the Hataman administration for having facilitated the construction of infrastructures needed to boost the productivity of fishing and peasant communities in the island province.

“If only past regional governors, after the ARMM’s inception in 1989, had performed efficiently, maybe there’s no more Moro rebellion to be worried about by now and poverty and underdevelopment in isolated areas in the region must have already been fairly addressed,” Furigay said.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, a political ally of Hataman, said he is expecting the governor’s SORA to focus partly on the gains of President Benigno Aquino III’s peace overture with the MILF.

“And that will make us, local officials in Maguindanao, very happy because we support the on-going government-MILF peace initiative wholeheartedly,” said Mangudadatu, who has jurisdiction over 36 towns that are known bastions of the MILF.

Hataman said he will give the GPH-MILF diplomatic overture “a vote of confidence” in his SORA. He declined to elaborate, however.

“Just wait for the time I will deliver my SORA,” he said.

Engineer Don Loong, deputy regional public works secretary, said there is a possibility the 2014 SORA will also delve on the regional government’s having religiously implemented some P2 billion worth of infrastructure projects in the past three years.

“This administration’s prudent handling of infrastructure funds resulted to the generation of about P500 million worth of savings from development packages the national government entrusted to Hataman from 2012 to the third quarter of 2014.

The ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways was a hotbed of corruption during the time of past administrations, second to the regional education department, then touted as most graft-ridden agency in the regional government.

The regional government had also saved in the past two years almost P1 billion worth of funds intended for the ARMM’s Department of Education owing to Hataman’s having removed thousands of “ghost teachers” from the agency’s old payrolls.

The governor had also delisted during the period dozens of non-existent schools from the roster of the region’s functional elementary and high school institutions that regularly received subsidies from the regional government in years past.