ARMM gov assures enough funds for relief operation in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY – Due to good fiscal management, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has enough funds for the relief operations for internally displaced persons in Maguindanao following military’s police action versus renegade Moro rebel group, the ARMM chief executive said today.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman on Wednesday said his office has close to P200 million for relief operations, belying reports that the regional government is financially incapable of funding its relief operations.

Earlier, ARMM officials said the region might be financially incapable to launch relief missions in Maguindanao due to depleted funds after the region conducted relief missions in typhoon-ravaged Visayas region last year.

The announcement was made as the number of displaced persons in the Army offensive versus outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in three Maguindanao towns rose to more than 10,000.

Hataman was reacting to a published report saying the regional government had ran out of relief funds for helping communities affected by the Zamboanga incident last year and the relief mission in Tacloban and Samar.

“It could be the ARMM’s social welfare department that temporarily ran out of funds and not the ARMM regional government in general. I still have about P200 million for relief operations and for other special expenditures,” Hataman told a news conference here Wednesday.

Hataman said the P200 million-worth special purpose fund (SPF), earmarked for relief operations, scholarship grants, and assistance to state-run hospitals in the cities of Zamboanga and Cotabato are intact and open to public scrutiny.

ARMM Vice Governor, Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, was earlier quoted in a report as saying that regional funds had been drained by their relief missions for victims of last year’s siege in several barangays in Zamboanga City.

Lucman is also the ARMM social welfare secretary.

“It’s the DSWD that got drained of its funds, not the ORG (office of the regional governor),” Hataman said.

To show ORG has enough funds, Hataman said the inter-agency Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Relief Team (HEART), had immediately responded to emergency in Maguindanao by establishing a coordinating and operation center inside the ARMM compound in Cotabato City.

HEART also sent personnel and emergency food stuff to Maguindanao’s beleaguered towns on the day the people evacuated.

ARMM is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. (PNA)

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