Saturday, March 30, 2013

ARMM pushes equitable growth in countryside


COTABATO CITY – Incumbent officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao pin hope their convergent program for health, education, livelihood, peace and security (HELPS) services to narrow down development inequities in the region’s mostly impoverished villages.

The HELPS program has been conceived with three main intents: To truly bring the government closer to villages; to narrow down growth inequities in rural areas; and to enable state officials to immerse with villagers and uncover gray areas in the countryside, according to ARMM OIC-Governor Mujiv Hataman, who infused the scheme into his regional reform agenda.

A first of its kind in the country, the program was piloted last February at a secluded village in Al-Barkha, a town in Basilan, which authorities classified as a “violent-prone” component of the being the scene of recent bloody skirmishes involving government forces, suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits, and guerillas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MIILF).

Al-Barkha is the home province of Hataman and, at the same time, composed of villages known to be enclaves of or influenced by MILF guerillas and partly by Abu Sayyaf bandits, military and police reports said.

From Basilan, the teams of ARMM line agencies with pooled resources and synchronized plans of actions launched consequently the program in other impoverished villages of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi in later part of February and March, participating officials said.

ARMM OIC-Vice Governor Bainon Karon, who iis concurrent regional social welfare secretary, said the province of Sulu would be covered by the program after the Lenten season.

Muslims do not observe the Lenten holidays but they “sympathize” with Christian workers and prospected recipients of the planned interventions, Karon clarified.

The convergence program intends to cover 153 poor villages in the whole of ARMM and that all regional cabinet secretaries are involved in the interventions, Hataman said.

“Cabinet secretaries are mandated to be present in every conduct of the program so they can better assess the situation on the ground, learn more about what the people need and in effect create a functional community,” he said said.

In the villages already covered in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao, villagers welcomed the convergent services with similar expressed thoughts that their communities had been bereft of comprehensive government services.

Some village officials even shed tears at the sight alone of higher government officials reaching out to them amid difficulties in cruising bad roads in the rural communities.
What makes the convergent program equally elating is its characteristic of complementing the national and provincial governments’ presence in the countryside, Hataman said.

National, regional and provincial officials join hands to “bring basic services and infrastructure projects right at the doorstep of those who really need them,” he said.

The amount already spent for the convergent program was not readily available, but Hataman said another P1.5 billion has been allocated to various infrastructure projects for development of roads, bridges and wharves mostly in the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.

Hataman clarified that the convergent program is apolitical, promising he would not exploit it to advance his candidacy for ARMM governor in the May 13, 2013 elections.

“I will not use even a single cent from the government coffer for me campaign. Our electorate can rest assured of this,” Hataman stressed. (Ali G. Macabalang)


"Moral Governance"

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

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

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

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


"Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE)"