ARMM 2018 budget passes Senate Finance Committee
MANILA – The Senate’s Finance Committee on Monday approved the 2018 budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao worth P33.469 billion and is now with the plenary for final approval.
Representatives of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) led by Governor Mujiv Hataman faced the Senate Committee on Finance (Subcommittee E) chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson to seek endorsement of the region’s budget.
Senators Lacson and Juan Miguel Zubiri heard the interpellation of the ARMM budget. During the hearing, allegations of corruption among local executives in the ARMM were raised by Zubiri. Hataman raised the issue of jurisdiction since local government units are not legally required to submit reports to the ARMM when it comes to the local government units’ expenditures.
“One thing I assure you, if the funds are part of the budget allocation for the ARMM, […] ito nga po ang pangako ko lagi and I am proud to say this, kung meron isa at sabihin, merong project sa loob ng ARMM from 2012 nung naglilingkod na ako hanggang 2017, kahit isang metro na na-ghost (project), ipakita lang ang ebidensya, pwede ako bumitiw sa pwesto,” Hataman replied.
The governor then cited Republic Act 9054 or the Organic Act of the ARMM and noted that the legislation does not provide for oversight powers when it comes to local government units in the region. “Yun ‘yung defect ng batas, as a matter of policy, halimbawa magbangsamoro Basic Law tayo ngayon kung gusto natin ng strong coordination,” Hataman stressed.
For Lacson, he cited the ARMM’S map-based electronic platform which is effective in monitoring varioys infrastructure projects in the provinces. “Yung map-based na electronic platform, that’s good. In fact I endorsed it to the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) during their DBCC hearing na baka pwede ireplicate, gawin nang national,” Lacson said in support of Hataman’s claim regarding absence of ghost projects in the ARMM.
“That is very useful pagdating sa elimination ng ghost project because it’s open to the public, […] and the public has complete access dun sa mismong project and makikita mismo ang implementation,” he added.
Lacson did inquire, however, if the quality of the projects implemented were at par with government standards.
“May dalawa kaming level ng monitoring and testing,” Hataman replied. “One is the quality control managed by the regional Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWHARMM) and, aside from that, the Office of the Regional Governor through the Regional Planning and Development Office (RPDO), meron kaming tinatawag na Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) which is composed of civil society,our regional legislative assembly […] so maaassure ko ‘yung quality.”
After a rigorous line of questioning, Zubiri acknowledged Hataman’s efforts towards good governance. “I’d like to congratulate Gov. Hataman for all these pro-active programs to combat corruption. Your candor is appreciated by this committee and I’m glad you said this because when you defend your budget on the floor, your candor in today’s hearing will help us and guide us.” he said, prasing Hataman’s efforts.
The ARMM budget proposals have been endorsed for the Senate plenary hearings, together with the budget proposals of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Mindanao Development Authority, and the Southern Philippines Development Authority.