“Matuwid na Pamamahala Tungo sa ARMM na Masagana’t Mapayapa”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Philstar: Anomalies, calamities hinder DepEd-ARMM operation

By John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – So deep-rooted are the anomalies in the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DepEd-ARMM) that its new administration is certain the problems cannot be fixed in the next five months.

Mujiv Hataman, the ARMM’s officer in charge, said natural calamities and armed conflicts may have also stifled the services of the department, but not as serious as the magnitude of damage corruption has done to education services, involving well-entrenched “syndicates” in the bureaucracy.

Hataman said the most serious of the irregularities they discovered in the DepEd-ARMM were about a thousand ghost teachers, ghost, or non-existent schools and the padded number of enrolments to increase the budget of enrolling institutions.

Hataman said usurers, or “loan sharks,” engaged in a money lending scheme forbidden in Islam, also made the lives of teachers so miserable that their efficiency has been badly affected.

Hataman, in a public forum here Tuesday, organized by the Notre Dame University (NDU) and the foreign-assisted Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG), said among the anomalies he discovered were the “unbelievable” high population of grade school pupils and high school students in Tawi-Tawi as compared to those listed in the much bigger provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

Tawi-Tawi only has more than a dozen small island towns, while Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur covers 36 and 43 municipalities, respectively.

Frustrating
NDU president Fr. Eduardo Tanudtanud and IAG director Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado Jr. expressed frustration over Hataman’s revelations.

“These are the reasons why quality of education in the autonomous region has been so low over the years. We have to pool their strengths together to help address these problems,” said Tanudtanud.

Mercado, whose peace-building projects in the south are funded by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung of Germany, said a special task force comprised of volunteers from private schools, the Islamic and Christian communities, political groups, representatives from the ARMM and MalacaƱang have to be organized to help “cure” the regional education department.

Project in question
Hataman said he was forced to suspend the implementation of a P1 billion school building project for remote towns pending a prior evaluation by representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Commission on Audit.

“The implementation was suspended because there are ghost teachers, ghost pupils and ghost schools in the autonomous region. We have to wipe them out first before we can fix everything in the almost dysfunctional DepEd-ARMM,” said Hataman, who assumed only last December 22.

Hataman said they also found out that there are relatives of education officials in the province who are employed as teachers, but are “absentees” and works abroad as tutors of children of wealthy families or as caregivers.

“In Basilan, my home-province, there are 1,300 teachers and 300 of them are fakes,” Hataman pointed out. “There are also dozens of teachers that have long died of illnesses, but whose names still appear on the payrolls.”

ATM payroll accounts
Participants to the forum, among them representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, non-government organizations involved in foreign-funded peace-building projects in Moro communities, applauded when Hataman announced that they will now release teachers’ salaries through the banks.

“Hopefully this will stop irregularities. No ghost teacher can ever acquire an automated teller machine card. We are hoping there will be no more delays in the payment of their salaries and fringe benefits,” Hataman said.

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"Matuwid na pamamahala tungo sa ARMM sa masagana't mapayapa"

English - "Good governance for a progressive and peaceful ARMM."

Sinama - "Hap pamarinta tudju ARMM na sambu maka salamat"

Bahasa Sug - "Dan mabuntul tudju pa ARMM masambu iban mahatul"

Meranaw - "Mathitu a kandatu sa ARMM ko katagompiya go kalilintad"