Licking poverty top priority for autonomous region

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SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has announced that a P4-billion budget has been allocated for various programs to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the region.

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Hataman recently said even as the ARRM government fully supports the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs, poverty alleviation is a top priority for the region this year.

At least 95 percent of the 116 municipal mayors and two city mayors of the ARMM attended the a meeting called by President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang last January 9 to discuss the war on illegal drugs.

In “Tapatan sa ARMM,” a regular media forum, held at the Bajau Hall, in the compound of the Office of the Regional Governor in Cotabato City, Hataman spoke about various issues affecting the region as well as the policies of the President specifically the war against illegal drugs and criminality and its effects on the region.

The ARMM governor expressed full support to the government’s initiative to eliminate illegal drugs and criminality in the country.

“It is right that the problem of illegal drugs be solved finally,” he said.

The governor answered along-standing question on the cause of delay — taking sometimes as long as five months — in the release of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) payouts.

“The DSWD [Department of Social Welfare of Development]-ARMM has no control over this, we are only monitoring the release of the funds. Even if DSWD-ARMM and the regional government make a lot of noise and demand that this be paid, if there is no written order for the contractor to pay it, nothing will happen,” Hataman said.

The DSWD-ARMM has scheduled a meeting with the DSWD central office to discuss technical problems that the program is facing and to clear issues.

The regional governor also answered questions on terror threats and drug-related violence.

The 6th Infantry Division and the Philippine National Police, he said, have intensified security measures and will definitely be on top of the situation, along with the regional government’s support, to ensure peace and stability in the region.

In Cotabato City, Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, who was one of the city mayors who attended the Malacanang meeting, told The Manila Times,

“The local city executives (LCEs) should help the President because nobody knows our place better than us. The President is right in saying that if the LCEs do not want drugs to proliferate in our place, we could do a lot in this fight against drugs.”

“We have our Ronda Patrol and it is one of the best practices in the region. In fact we are considered as model city because our crime index went down by 53 percent because of the ronda,” according to the Cotabato City mayor.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in the ARMM is on high alert after a recent jailbreak in North Cotabato involving high-profile inmates, the regional governor said.

The local government units of areas where the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group operates, according to the governor, have created teams led by the Cooperative Development Authority and the Department of Agriculture to implement productivity activities aimed at helping local communities, including families of ASG members.

He said he expects the same amount of investments to flow into the ARRM as they did in 2016.

JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL

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