COTABATO City, Philippines (Philippine Star/26 July) - Officials are keen on turning over to a new Bangsamoro government a “reformed” Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to prove it might not have become a “failed experiment” if not for decades of mismanagement and neglect of its more than two million Moro constituents.


ARMM officials, including regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman, separately reiterated Thursday their readiness to step down and turn over the regional government by 2015, or even earlier, to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (TransCom).


The TransCom, comprised of eight representatives from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and seven from the government, will oversee the setting up of a new Bangsamoro political entity based on a final GPH-MILF peace deal.


Hataman’s term as duly-elected ARMM governor will last until June 30, 2016, but President Benigno Aquino III already assured the MILF in his July 22 State of the Nation Address that his administration is looking forward to striking a final peace deal with the rebel group by 2015.


“The present ARMM administration wants to turn over a `reformed ARMM’ to show that the autonomous region to be replaced with a Bangsamoro entity isn’t a `failed experiment’ after all,” said Amihilda Sangcopan, chief of staff of the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG).


The ARMM leadership had earlier been reported to have generated more than P900 million savings from unspent grants from the national government in the past 18 months due to the stringent management of the treasuries of line agencies under the ORG, touted as the “Little Malacañang” of the autonomous region.


“We intend to accomplish more before the ARMM is finally phased out to pave the way for the bilateral creation by the government and the MILF of a new Bangsamoro political entity,” Sangcopan said.


ARMM’s executive secretary Laisa Alamia said that the Hataman administration will continue to impose fiscal prudence among agencies and offices under ORG to hasten reforms that would benefit Moro communities in the autonomous region during the ARMM’s remaining years.


The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Basilan, which the MILF wants to group together as part of the Bangsamoro territory.


Fiscal procedural flowchart


Alamia said Hataman has just isued a directive setting up a fiscal procedural flowchart to safeguard all the financial transactions of the regional government.


She said the streamlined scheme, which is open to scrutiny by media and the local communities, will help curb anomalies and dubious transactions while, at the same time, provide means to gauge the performance of every agency or office under the ORG. 


Hataman’s memorandum also required heads of offices to submit a complete inventory of government equipment and property they are accountable for and an actual head count of their rank-and-file subordinates.


“They must all submit work and financial plans as `benchmark’ on how functional their respective offices are,” Alamia said.


Alamia said members of the regional cabinet are confident they can still accomplish more through good governance until the ARMM gets replaced with a Bangsamoro entity by 2015.


“By then maybe we can already label the ARMM as a `reformed ARMM,’ reformed through the cooperation of all sectors in the region and its elected leaders,” Alamia said. -- John Unson/Philippine Star