ARMM leaders ready for 2016 advent of Bangsamoro entity PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 09 November 2013 11:58

President Benigno Aquino III’s having labelled “failed experiment” the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has not dampened the zeal of officials to achieve their development goals before a new Bangsamoro political entity replaces the ARMM in 2016.

Public officials who led Thursday’s kickoff ceremony in Cotabato City for the ARMM’s 24th anniversary celebration were optimistic they can turn over in 2016 a “reformed” regional government to Malacanang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a prelude to its replacement with an MILF-led Bangsamoro self-governing outfit.

“We might still be celebrating two more founding anniversaries, in 2014 and in 2015, before that transition happens,” said Laisa Alamia, ARMM’s regional executive secretary.

President Aquino had branded the ARMM a failed experiment in 2011, just before he appointed in December of the same year Mujiv Hataman as caretaker of the region, following the termination of the elective term then of Gov. Ansarudin Adiong.

The GPH and MILF panels are trying to jointly put up a more comprehensively empowered Bangsamoro political entity in lieu of ARMM, known all over as “hotbed” of corruption.

Hataman got elected as regional governor, along with his running mate, now ARMM Vice-Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, Jr., during the May 13 synchronized regional, local and midterm elections.

The Hataman administration now boasts of having reformed in recent months the graft-ridden regional education and public works departments, based on the accumulation of about P1 billion worth of savings from unspent salary and operation grants from the national treasury for the two entities.

The ARMM’s Department of Education and Department of Public Works and Highways were previously touted as the region’s most corrupt and second most corrupt offices, respectively.

Thursday’s start of the ARMM’s month-long 24th anniversary celebration in Cotabato City highlighted with a parade of employees clad in colorful traditional clothes, depicted the unique cultural identities of the Moro and non-Moro indigenous communities in the autonomous region.

Hataman and Lucman both said uniting the region’s culturally-pluralistic communities — the Tausog, Yakan, Maranaw, Iranon, Maguindanao, Samah, Teduray, and Teduray-Lambangian groups — is one big concern now for the regional government.

“Uniting our people and making them feel the importance of community involvement in governance is something we want to achieve before the transition from ARMM to a Bangsamoro entity starts,” Hataman told a group of reporters covering the ARMM’s anniversary feast dubbed “Karadjaan Festival.”

Karadjaan is a generic Moro term for a community gathering either to celebrate something, or hold religious events, or for traditional engagements such as settlement of family feuds, weddings, and clan reunions.

Hataman and Lucman also both acknowledged the need for an honest implementation of projects in underdeveloped areas and utmost transparency in handling of public funds for residents to realize how the ARMM government can attend to their needs if managed efficiently, at least before it gets deactivated after the crafting of a final GPH-MILF peace compact.

Hataman said aside from pursuing its reform agenda, the ARMM government is also busy now “capacitating” the local communities on how to directly help hasten the delivery of basic services to their communities and implement “demand-driven” programs through the services convergence intervention approach of the region’s Health, Education, Livelihood, Peace and Security (HELPS) projects in far-flung areas.

“We need to raise the awareness of ARMM folks, this early, on the need for them to participate in the peace and development initiatives of the regional government and, subsequently, that of the political entity the government and the MILF are to jointly establish soon,” Hataman said.

Regional officials said it was for lack of strong semblance of a regional government in many areas in ARMM that people have lost interest in getting involved with governance.

Amihilda Sangcopan, who is Hataman’s chief-of-staff, said some of their activities during the Karadjaan Festival, which is to last until December 19, are meant to depict the accomplishments of the ARMM government since early 2012, while under a caretaker administration, and since the governor’s election last May 13 as seventh elected chief executive of the autonomous region.

“We shall also have cultural shows to educate people on the socio-political intricacies of the autonomous region, home to mixed Muslim and Christian communities,” Sangcopan said.