By Willard Cheng, ABC-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will ask concerned departments and agencies to explain the slow pace by which funds intended for development projects for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are being used.
In his speech during the ARMM Convention on Local Governance here in Davao, the President noted that various projects under the Transition Investment Plan for the ARMM have not yet even started.
The President challenged the departments to hasten the implementation of these projects, telling them to "use it or lose it."
This means the departments could lose part of their budget to other performing departments if the funds are not used by the time the deadline comes.
He said P8.59 billion have been allotted for the Transition Investment Plan for the ARMM, involving such projects as providing safe drinking water for the people of ARMM and other infrastructure programs. This includes the core shelter assistance program for families displaced by conflicts, building farm-to-market roads, repair of roads and bridges, and an electrification program.
The President pointed out the changes in the ARMM since the administration of OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman took over. He said real schools are being built and that there is now a promise of peace in view of the government’s peace talks with the MILF. The voters’ list would also be cleansed.
The President thanked Hataman and the local officials for making reforms possible. He thanked Congress for approving the synchronization of the ARMM elections with the 2013 national and local elections.
He said all these changes are aimed at changing the perception of the ARMM as a hotbed of violence and election fraud.
The President witnessed the awarding of the Seal of Good Housekeeping to best performing LGUs of the ARMM. A one million peso check sourced from the Performance Challenge Fund was awarded to each of these municipalities. DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and OIC Governor Hataman handed the checks to the recipients.
The President asked the LGUs to use these funds prudently to finance projects that would benefit their respective peoples.