ARMM Executive Secretary Oscar Sampulna announced last week in a radio interview that Malacañang has approved the release of a special grant for unpaid salaries.
Sampulna said the previous administration failed to pay the September 2005 salaries of some 20,000 teachers, the budget for which had been released by the Department of Education (DepEd) national office.
The release of the unpaid salaries started last Friday, Sampulna said.
Sampulna said that it was ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Puti Uy Ampatuan who requested Malacañang to release the fund.
He said Ampatuan “has just inherited the problem and was himself stunned when he learned that the regional DepEd had been divested of some P200 million worth of public funds when he placed the agency under his ministerial control.”
Sampulna said that outgoing education officials did not even turn over the department’s financial records to Ampatuan after his election in 2005.
A week earlier, on August 18 in General Santos City, Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad appealed to the Bishops-Ulama Conference to help facilitate with ARMM officials the release of the long-delayed teachers’ salaries.
Jumoad said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had actually released the money to the ARMM on July 10 but as of August 18, the teachers had yet to receive their salaries.
Jumoad, who took the cudgels for the Basilan teachers, said he brought the matter of unpaid salaries of the Basilan teachers to the attention of President Arroyo in early July. Jumoad said the same problem was happening in the other ARMM areas.
ARMM comprises the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao and the Islamic City of Marawi.
Jumoad said President Arroyo instructed Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya to release the funds in early July and that Andaya phoned him on July 10 informing him he had delivered the money to the regional office.
“The problem is in the regional office,” he said, adding Abaya informed him P200 million had been released for 16,000 ARMM teachers for the September 2005 unpaid salaries.
Jumoad also cited the July 13, 2006 letter to him from the Basilan DepED-ARMM Teachers and Employees (BasTEA) seeking his help in having their September 2005 salaries and that the high school teachers have not received their June 2006 salaries.
Datu Zaldy Ampatuan took over as ARMM governor from Parouk Hussin on September 30, 2005. (Malu Cadelina-Manar with a report from Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)