Local execs glad with ARMM’s P10 billion 2015 infra budget PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 11:49

Local officials were elated with government’s having allocated additional P10 billion for infrastructure projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao this year in support of the southern peace process.

Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay of Lamitan City, capital of Basilan, on Monday said the 2015 infrastructure projects will hasten the bilateral effort of Malacañang and the present ARMM administration to restore normalcy in areas still rising from devastation wrought by armed conflicts.

The five provinces of ARMM —— Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi — are shared bastions of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Furigay said Lamitan City has been benefiting extensively from the infrastructure, education and social welfare thrusts of the present ARMM administration, interventions that ushered in improvements in the city’s economy.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and his regional public works secretary, Engineer Don Mustapha Loong, separately announced last week that residents of the autonomous region stand to benefit from an additional P10 billion infrastructure package this year.

“We ought to thank President Benigno Aquino III, the House of Representatives and the Senate for all of these good tidings,” Hataman told The STAR Monday when asked to elaborate.

Hataman said the package will partly cover the rehabilitation of old roads and the construction of new arterial networks, 45 ports in seaside trading centers in coastal towns, and 91 water supply systems.

Loong, who has ministerial control over eight district engineering offices scattered in the autonomous region, said they intend to build 500 kilometers more of roads interconnecting municipalities in the region using fractions of the P10 billion 2015 infrastructure fund.

Reports obtained from state auditors and civil society organizations, to countercheck ARMM’s spending of its 2014 budget, indicated that the Hataman administration now has a 71.3 percent accomplishment of projects funded out of the region’s public works subsidy for last year.

The ARMM government had targeted in its 2014 infrastructure objectives the construction of 400 kilometers of arterial networks in the region.

“That target includes the rehabilitation of old roads,” Loong said.

The ARMM government had also earmarked the construction of 13 bridges, 17 seaports and 12 drainage systems in oft-flooded areas using money from its 2014 infrastructure subsidy.

“This more than 70 percent project accomplishment rate was achieved with the help of local executives in beneficiary municipalities and their provincial governors,” Loong said.

Loong said the DPWH-ARMM is also focused on flood mitigation projects in perennially flooded areas in the autonomous region, including Maguindanao towns near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta in Central Mindanao.

“These projects will boost the region’s tourism industry and will attract more tourists and potential business capitalists,” he added.

Loong, Hataman and two mayors in Maguindanao, Ibrahim Ibay and Abduradzak Tomawis of Parang and Barira, respectively, forged last June 24 at the Office of the Regional Governor in Cotabato City a special agreement on the implementation of P214 million worth of infrastructure projects in the two municipalities.

The fund shall be spent for the construction of the Padang-Padang Park access road, the Sarmiento-Landasan road, the Parang-Barira road and Matanog-Barira-Buldon road.

A part of the P214 million grant will be spent for the construction of the Tagudtungan and Litayin seaports in Bongo Island, which is about five kilometers off Parang, and the rehabilitation of the Polloc Port in the same municipality.

Also to be built out of funds sourced from the same grant is a water system in Barira, a known stronghold of the MILF.

The local governments in Parang and Barira both belong to the Iranun Development Council (IDC), a socio-economic development bloc of four towns that are bastions of the ethnic Iranun group, whose dialect is a mix of the Maranaw and Maguindanao vernaculars.

Loong and Hataman had also signed on June 24 pertinent documents on a P197 worth infrastructure development initiative in the island province of Tawi-Tawi, located in south of ARMM.

The fund shall cover for the concreting of the 17-kilometer Maraning-Marang-Marang Road in Languyan town, which will connect fishing villages in the area to the municipal market in Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi.

“The implementation of these projects will be open to scrutiny by media and interested civil society organizations,” Hataman said.

Ibay, who is chairman of IDC, said he and other mayors of Iranun towns are confident the projects will expedite the government’s normalization efforts in areas made poor by secessionist conflicts.

“These projects deserve our utmost support,” Ibay said.