5 ARMM towns poorest in PH

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 December) — Five municipalities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao recorded the highest poverty incidence in the country, results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2012 estimates on poverty incidence showed.

The results were presented by Dr. Zita Albacea, executive director of the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute, during the regional forum on the 2012 Municipal and City Level Poverty Estimates Wednesday at the SMX Convention Center Davao.

The country has 1,634 cities and municipalities.

Of the five municipalities, Bacolod-Kalawi in Lanao del Sur recorded the highest poverty incidence, 84.8 percent, or more than triple the 2009 figure of 29.4 percent.

“That means, for every 100 people, there are 85 poor. That’s very alarming because it’s close to 100,” Albacea said.

Datu Saudi-Ampatuan in Maguindanao is the second poorest with a poverty incidence of 83 percent. In 2009, the figure was 43.4 percent.

Third was Lumbayanague in Lanao del Sur with a poverty incidence of 81.9 percent in 2012 and 55.7 percent in 2009, Piagapo in Lanao del Sur with 81.4 percent in 2012 and 37 percent in 2009, and Talayan in Maguindanao with 80.3 percent in 2012 and 50.9 percent in 2009.

The ARMM has two cities and 116 municipalities.

The PSA said the country’s annual per capita poverty threshold was pegged at P18,935.

PSA defines poverty threshold as “the minimum income/expenditure required for a family/individual to meet the basic food and non-food requirements.”

During the “Beyond Mamasapano: Reporting the Bangsamoro Peace Process” forum in July this year, ARMM executive secretary Laisa Masuhud Alamia said the development challenges were “exacerbated by intergenerational cycles of conflict, insecurity, and displacement in the region since 1970’s.”

The ARMM has proposed a P45-billion 2016 budget, at least 40 percent of which will go to the salaries of government workers in the region’s 116 municipalities.

The 2016 proposed budget is the biggest for ARMM since 2012, when it only received P9 billion. The region got P20 billion in 2013, P29 billion in 2014, and P30 billion this year.

The region’s internal revenue allotment passes through the regional offices of the Department of Budget and Management in Regions 9, 10 and 12.

Alamia said no funds had been allocated for the programs in the past coming from the region’s budget because most of it went to the salaries and maintenance and other operating expenses of all government agencies in the municipalities.

“The region is the one paying the civil servants. ARMM does not pay for the programs implemented in the area,” she said.

She explained the implementation of the government projects is not the mandate of the ARMM but of the national agencies that allocate the funds, which were often delayed. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)