DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – Thirteen mayors out of 116 towns in the five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were awarded Wednesday morning the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) for good governance performance in 2011, two of them grandsons of the Ampatuan patriarch, former three-term Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr.
Ten of the 13 winners are from Maguindanao, two from Sulu and one from Lanao del Sur. ARMM comprises the three provinces plus Basilan and Tawi-tawi and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.
The SGH is a prerequisite to availing a million pesos each from the P100-million Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) in the ARMM, an incentive scheme for mayors “who can comply with the government’s full disclosure policy on the use of public funds, exemplary governance and delivery of basic services.”
Each of the winners went up the stage at the closing of the two-day ARMM LGU Convention on Local Governance, and received a million peso cheque and a plaque of recognition from President Benigno Simeon Aquino, Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo and ARMM OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman.
Of the 13 SGH recipients, five are in the category of 1st to 3rd class municipalities: Maguindanao’s Datu Odin Sinsuat under Mayor Datu Lester Sinsuat, Parang under Mayor Ibrahim Ibay, Sultan Kudarat under Mayor Tocao Mastura, Upi under Mayor Ramon Piang; and Lanao del Sur’s Wao town under Mayor Elvino Balicao, Jr.
Eight are in the category of 4th to 6th class municipalities: Maguindanao’s Mamasapano under Mayor Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan under Mayor Datu Saudi Sean Ampatuan III, Guindulungan under Mayor Guaidzali Midtimbang, Talayan under Mayor Tungkang Midtimbang, Paglat under Mayor Ibrahim Langkuno, Sultan Mastura under Mayor Armando Mastura; Sulu’s Pandami under Mayor Berto Hatta and Pangima Estino mayor Munib Estino.
It was the first time in the 22-year old ARMM that the ARMM governor, vice governor, Cabinet members, representatives from the Regional Legislative Assembly, governors from the five provinces and mayors from 116 towns and two cities gathered for a convention and awarding ceremonies attended by the President.
The mayor of Mamasapano is a grandson of the Ampatuan patriarch and the son of former mayor Akmad “Tato” Masukat Ampatuan, Sr.
The Ampatuan patriarch and the former Mamasapano mayor who was appointed OIC Vice Governor in January 2009, have been detained since December 5, 2009 as suspects in the massacre of 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, on November 23 that year.
In the 2010 elections, Akmad “Tato” Masukat Ampatuan, Sr., already detained, ran for vice mayor of Mamasapano against his daughter Lady Sha-honey while his son Bahnarin, the elected vice mayor in 2007 who assumed the mayoralty post in early 2009, ran for mayor against another son, Tahirodin Benzar.
Bahnarin, who as among those implicated in the 2009 massacre but who has remained at large, lost the mayoralty.
In Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Saudi Ampatuan Jr., who was also implicated in the 2009 massacre, won the mayoralty but since he remains at large, his brother, Saudi III, who won the vice mayoralty, assumed the post of mayor and like Tahirodin Benzar, went up the stage to receive his SGH from the President, Robredo and Hataman.
According to the website of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the SGH is in line with its commitment to “aggressively scale up interventions to elevate the practice of governance that values transparency, accountability, participation and performance into an institutionalized status.”
This project aims to recognize local government units with good governance performance in internal housekeeping particularly on four areas: Good Planning; Sound Fiscal Management; Transparency and Accountability; and Valuing of Performance Monitoring.
The thirteen towns were cited for their compliance with the DILG memo circular on full disclosure policy and also for having “no COA (Commission on Audit) adverse finding on financial transactions.”
Mamasapano, under Mayor Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan, was also cited for being a model LGU on Municipal Vocational and Technical Training (MVTechT) by TESDA-ARMM and is a regional awardee on Disaster Preparedness (Kalasag Award), and regional entry to the National Kalasag Search on Disaster Preparedness.
Datu Odin Sinsuat under Mayor Lester Sinsuat was recognized on April 3 as Citizen’s Satisfaction Center, Seal of Excellence and for its adherence to the requirements provided by Republic Act No. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape of 2007.
Among the 13 winners are cousins (the Ampatuans) and brothers (the Masturas and Midtimbangs).
Sultan Kudarat under Mayor Tocao Mastura has been awarded as a model LGU on Tax Payment processing while Sultan Mastura under Mayor Armand Mastura has also been a recipient of several awards including the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi in 2011, Galing Pook 2010 and Civil Service Performance Award 2010.
Upi has been a consistent winner of various government initiatives with Mayor Piang recognized not only within the region but also in the entire country.
Like Mayor Piang, Wao’s Mayor Balicao has also been a consistent awardee and the town last year won the Galing Pook for two environmental programs.
Parang under Mayor Ibay has also initiated several innovative programs including 511 or the Iranun Rescue Assistance and Institutional and management strengthening system. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)