LBP OKs P1.042B Maguindanao ‘peace and development’ loan PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 13:11

A government bank on Monday approved fractions of a P1.7 billion loan of the Maguindanao provincial government, a part of it earmarked for dredging of silted rivers that overflow and inundate vast swaths of rice and corn farms during rainy days.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and a senior executive of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Harold Celestial, on Monday signed the initial P1.042 billion loan agreement detailing various allocations in the presence of reporters and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

The symbolic forging of the loan agreement was held in Mangudadatu’s office in Buluan town in the second district of Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu said they will use P200 million from the loan for the procurement, via processes covered by state accounting procedures open to media scrutiny, of equipment needed in the clearing of big rivers from silt and debris that have accumulated in the past 40 years.

“These rivers first link up with marshes and swamps around the Liguasan Marsh, Asia’s largest marsh, surrounded by Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces, which overflow and cause floods in many areas in the first and second districts of Maguindanao during the rainy season,” he said.

Maguindanao’s vice governor, Lester Sinsuat, also affixed his signature to the loan documents as presiding chair of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, which granted a written approval of the provincial government’s application for the P1.7 billion loan, to be spent for various socio-economic and calamity mitigation projects.

Also to be sourced out from the loan is a P342 million package for infrastructures in a new seat for the provincial government in Buluan town, the new administrative and political of Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu said the new provincial capitol will be established near the Buluan public market, on a private land covered by a legal document — an absolute deed of donation — by owners.

The more than P100 million provincial capitol building, built in Shariff Aguak town from between 2004 to 2007 by the now detained, ailing former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Sr., did not have any work plan approved by the Commission on Audit and the Department of Budget and Management.

The old capitol building, located east of Shariff Aguak, sits on a fenced lot owned by the Ampatuan family that has never been donated to the government for public use.

“The land where we are to construct a new provincial capitol building has donation documents,” Mangudadatu said.

The Mangudadatu administration will also spend P50 million from the LBP loan for the setting up of a new provincial jail equipped with psycho-social rehabilitation facets as such worship sites and a school where detainees can be provided with vocational education to enable them to start life anew after serving their prison terms.

“We want to guide them back into the mainstream with the help of clerics and social welfare experts. We need to rehabilitate them, make them realize the importance of reparation for the offenses they committed to enable them to start all over again easily,” Mangudadatu said.

The provincial government also allocated another P50 million from the loan for an equity counterpart for a P500 million worth diversified infrastructure projects to be implemented by the foreign-assisted Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP).

“We cannot let go of the chance for our province to grow with the support of the PRDP which is ready to spend that much for Maguindanao with only a very minimal contribution from the provincial government,” Mangudadatu said.

Members of the provincial board were delighted with the allocation by the provincial government of a huge amount for heavy equipment needed in dredging of rivers and swamps in many low-lying towns in Maguindanao.

“It’s better to dredge this waterways and swamps now than spend in the next decade bigger amounts of public funds, higher in value by so many folds, for never ending relief and rehabilitation of people perennially displaced by floods,” said lawyer Bobby Katambak, a senior member of the provincial law-making body.

The LBP is yet to approve the remaining more than P600 million loan application of the provincial government, according to Celestial.

“The Land Bank of the Philippines is honored and proud to be part of the development initiatives in Maguindanao,” he said.

A fraction of the remaining loan, now being studied for subsequent approval by a board in the LBP, is intended for the expansion of the provincial government’s Maguindanao Program for Educational Assistance and Community Empowerment (MagPEACE).

The MagPEACE, which presently bankrolls the schooling of more than 5,000 Muslim, Christian and lumad college students from far-flung areas in the province, was pioneered with only 600 beneficiaries by Mangudadatu following his first election to office as governor in May 2010.