ARMM has enough relief, rehab funds — Hataman PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 January 2014 13:10

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao announced yesterday his office still has P200 million for relief operations, contrary to a report that the ARMM is financially incapable of providing for the needs of its internally-displaced constituents.

The announcement was made at a press conference in Cotabato City, amid the ongoing hostilities between the military and the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the adjoining Datu Piang and Shariff Saidona towns in Maguindanao, which already dislocated more than 10,000 innocent Moro villagers.

A visibly irked Hataman was apparently reacting to a recent published report purporting that the regional government had run out of relief and rehabilitation funds for helping communities affected by the siege in Zamboanga City in September 2013, and subsequently, those displaced by typhoon Yolanda that struck the Visayas two months later.

“It could be the ARMM’s social welfare department that temporarily ran out of funds and not the ARMM regional government in general. I still have about P200 million for relief operations and for other special expenditures,” Hataman told reporters during a press conference in his office in Cotabato City.

Hataman said the P200 million-worth special purpose fund (SPF), earmarked for relief operations, scholarship grants, and assistance to state-run hospitals in the cities of Zamboanga and Cotabato, which admits indigent patients from the ARMM’s island provinces, and from  Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, respectively, are intact and open to scrutiny by media.

The ARMM’s vice governor, Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, was earlier quoted in a report as saying that regional funds had been drained by their relief missions for victims of last year’s siege in several barangays in Zamboanga City by followers of Nur Misuari and the typhoon Yolanda onslaught.

Lucman is the concurrent regional secretary of the ARMM’s Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Obviously it’s the DSWD-ARMM that got drained of funds, not the ORG,” Hataman said.

The ORG, touted as the ARMM’s “Little Malacañang,” exercises ministerial control over the region’s social welfare department, and some 40 other line agencies and support offices devolved by the national government.

Hataman said the ARMM’s inter-agency Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Relief Team (HEART) had, in fact just opened its operations and coordinating center inside the 32-hectare regional government compound here.

He said residents of the ARMM provinces — Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in Central Mindanao, and the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, are assured of the preparedness of the HEART to respond to emergencies.

“I hope next time journalists would come to me for clarifications first before publishing reports about fiscal concerns and issues. We’re transparent with regards to our handling of state funds intended for various expenditures,” Hataman said.