P6 billion ARMM infra projects at stake if Moro-GPH conflict erupts PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 February 2015 17:34

A resumption of hostilities between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front could imperil close to P6 billion worth of on-going infrastructure projects in five southern provinces.

Hadji Emil Sadain, regional public works secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said most of their on-going projects in ARMM’s five provinces, all vulnerable to conflicts, were designed to hasten the restoration of normalcy in Moro communities made impoverished by conflicts in decades past.

He said their costly projects that could be stifled by armed conflicts are meant to complement the normalization process and the decommissioning of rebels the government and the MILF are to bilaterally initiate based on all socio-economic and security agreements both sides had crafted in the past 18 years, including the development agenda of the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).

“We will instantly lose all of these on-going projects if war will erupt, if the peace process will collapse as a consequence of what is now more known as the `January 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident.’ That incident should not affect the peace process,” Sadain said.

Most of the ARMM’s on-going projects, such as roads, barangay centers, bridges, ports and water systems are being implemented in far-flung areas in the region, Sadain said.

Sadain said his subordinate-district engineers in the ARMM’s Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces are against any resumption of hostilities between the government and the MILF.

“No one from all of the employees of the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways wants a protracted conflict in any part of the autonomous region,” Sadain said.

Sadain, a Tausog, said he himself had experienced how serious are the consequences of armed conflicts and how civilians could suffer from its brunt.

He said his parents were forced to relocate their family from Jolo, the capital town of Sulu, to Zamboanga City to escape from the hostilities that plagued the island province during the height of the uprising in the 1970s by the Moro National Liberation Front.

There are more than P1 billion worth of on-going projects in Maguindanao, Sadain said.

Maguindanao is a known MILF bastion, where the group has enclaves in all of its 36 towns.

Sadain said ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman has ordered the immediate construction of a P15 million worth bridge that would traverse a river separating two agricultural sites in Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town, located in the second district of Maguindanao.

The proposed bridge will replace the wooden footbridge near the scene of the deadly January 25 encounter between members of the police’s Special Action Force and MILF guerrillas.

At least 44 SAF operatives, 18 MILF members and five innocent civilians were killed in the incident.

Sadain said the DPWH-ARMM will also construct soon a 1.5 kilometer P10 million worth road that would straddle through farming enclaves in Barangay Tukanalipao.

“The funds to be spent for these two new projects will be drawn from savings our department generated in the past two years,” Sadain said.

The DPWH-ARMM, touted during the time of past administrations as second most corrupt regional agency, next to the education department, generated more than P400 million worth of savings in the past 24 months as a result of the stringent handling of its coffer by Sadain and Hataman.

The DPWH-ARMM was, in fact, adjudged as the regional government’s “top performer” for 2013 to 2014 by a survey group comprised of representatives from various civil society organizations, government and private auditors and prominent peace activists owing to its extensive implementation of projects and transparent handling of state funds earmarked for infrastructure packages.

The feat bagged for Sadain the coveted “most outstanding regional secretary award,” which was one of the highlights of the commemoration of the 25th founding anniversary of ARMM from November 17 to December 17 last year.

“If war in ARMM erupts, as what people outside wants, all of our projects for underdeveloped communities will be gone, gone swiftly,” Sadain said.