First 100 days: ARMM governor cites anti-graft measures

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/17 April) – Appointed Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman marked his first 100 days in office with a report detailing his administration’s efforts to regain public trust through measures that seek to curb graft.

Hataman said he has reviewed the past administration’s infrastructure projects, conducted swift audit of local government’s performance, and partnered with civil society in anti-corruption campaign, among other measures.

He said he has also instituted reforms in the regional Department of Education and Department of Public Works and Highways, in particular getting rid of so-called ghost teachers, schools and projects. (See related story)

The governor said the discovery of the “ghost” items enabled the region to save P202 million, adding this amount will be utilized in the development of online interconnection and development of other agencies that needed fiscal support.

“While we needed to intensify development and infrastructure projects, this can’t be done yet without the appointment of the Regional Legislative body that can support this incumbent office in instituting reform, hence, I ask you to help me urge and plea to the national government to appoint them,” he said.

Citing that there were infrastructure projects that were fully funded but not completed, Hataman told officials that “bawal na ang farm-to-pocket projects,” a pun on farm-to-market road projects which budget ends up in the pockets of public officials.

He vowed to monitor all projects under his term and to evaluate every proposal. All projects must be based on genuine community need, he said.

He added absentee employees who continue to receive salaries will be issued with “back to office” memorandums, and those who have retired and died but are still receiving salaries, will be delisted.

“Outside ARMM, people perceived us as thieves. We needed to correct that image so that we can be truly proud to regain public trust,” he said.

Hataman also said the teachers will receive their salary through manual delivery and no longer through automated teller machines.

He noted that most teachers have already surrendered their ATMs to financiers or “loan sharks.”

Hataman cited a teacher who declared herself dead to absolve from unpaid growing debt. “This is pathetic,” he said as he vowed to change the system.

He urged financiers to find alternative jobs instead of fleecing poorly paid teachers, adding he will investigate supervisors who have tolerated this scheme.

The governor also criticized the purchase of a P12-million mobile clinic which he described as a “rusted second-hand facility adorned only with new stickers.” He said he was frustrated to learn that they could not use it to assist the victims of storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities since its transmission was busted.

Hataman was appointed by President Benigno Aquino III to lead a “transition regional government” following the passage of a law postponing the 2011 ARMM election and synchronizing it with the midterm election next year.

Malacanang said the postponement of the ARMM election will allow the government to institute reforms in the region, which comprises the provinces of Tawi-tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)