ARMM leaders lay down foundation for upcoming Bangsamoro gov’t

COTABATO CITY, March 6 (PNA) — With the mindset that the upcoming Bangsamoro government is a solution to the decades-old problem and flagship program of President Benigno Aquino III for Mindanao, the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is embarking on a series of efforts aimed at providing the upcoming Bangsamoro government a smooth transition of power even as it continues to implement the reform agenda it started more than two years ago, officials said Thursday.

During its first regional cabinet meeting held in Isabela City, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman reiterated his earlier instruction to its regional officials that line agencies including its workforce should device mechanisms that will help in the transition stage.

“We are laying down the foundation. We want to make sure that we are very much ready when the official turnover comes and we know that whatever we are doing now in the ARMM government will be useful when the new Bangsamoro government sets in,” Hataman said.

The gathering of cabinet officials and local executives also focused on the accomplishments of the line departments for the first two months of the year.

The regional governor cited the improved investment climate in the region with record-breaking investments for 2013 and for the first two months of 2014.

The ARMM’s Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) recently reported an approved P1.451 billion worth of investments for the 1st quarter of this year.

“This is a record for the region, since it is almost the same as the total amount of investments registered with the board in 2013, which stood at P1.463 billion by the end of year,” Atty. Ishak Mastura, Regional Board of Investments chair and managing head, said.

Mastura presented during the Cabinet meeting the investment climate in the region and the number of interested investors for 2014.

Mastura reiterated that there is also the contributing factor of governance reforms in ARMM and the “hands-on” investment promotion initiated by the Hataman administration convincing local investors that the autonomous region is serious about wooing and securing investors to expand their operations or to set-up new enterprises in the region.

For the region’s education sector, Secretary Jamar Kulayan said that it targets to address the problem on classroom gaps by 2016.

“This is unprecedented,” Hataman said referring to a number of accomplishments by his administration.

Meanwhile, Atty. Anwar Malang, secretary of the region’s Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-ARMM), said that his office has successfully held in Isabela City, its first ARMM Barangay Summit on Governance, Peace and Development.

Malang said the summit was attended by more than 200 barangay executives across the province of Basilan.

“This is our first batch and we are looking at implementing this in the remaining four provinces of the region,” he said.

ARMM is composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the two cities of Lamitan and Marawi.

For her part, ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Masuhud-Alamia said that the current ARMM administration wants to capacitate more local government units which she noted will play a crucial role in the success of the proposed autonomous political entity.

Amihilda Sangcopan, chief of staff of Hataman’s office and in charge of the governor’s flagship projects on education, health and livelihood, said that ARMM is currently conducting screening process for deserving beneficiaries of the said project.

“May ‘K’ ka sa ARMM is a direct assistance program of the ARMM under the leadership of Gov. Mujiv Hataman. K stands for Karunungan (education) Kalusugan (health) at Kabuhayan (livelihood),” said Sangcopan.

Sangcopan said that the scholarship component is already on its second phase and that it targets to benefit thousands of deserving students.

“As promised, I will readily step down from office once a new government is to take place and will continue to support President Aquino’s vision for Muslim Mindanao region,” Hataman said.

The Bangsamoro government is an expected result of the 17-year peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

A comprehensive peace agreement is expected to be signed this month. (PNA)