Hataman vows transparency in fund use, ARMM reforms

Newly appointed Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) officer-in-charge Gov. Mujiv Hataman assumed office yesterday and vowed to be transparent in handling state funds earmarked for development initiatives and in reforming the regional bureaucracy as espoused by President Aquino.

The ARMM’s outgoing local government secretary, Haron Al-Rashid Lucman, and the regional planning director, Adel Dumagay, turned over to Hataman and his protégé in Maguindanao, human rights lawyer Anwar Malang, vital documents on the transfer of administrative responsibilities, including unspent funds in the regional coffers, manpower and property outlays to the control of the new administration.

Hataman, a former congressman of the Anak Minda­nao party-list, hails from Barangay Bole-bole in Sumisip, a vote-rich town in the southeastern part of the island province of Basilan.

Among the public officials present in the turnover rites were Governors Sakur Tan and Sadikul Sahali of the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, respectively, and the provincial chairman for Maguindanao of the Liberal Party, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Tucao Mastura, and Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay.

Furigay said he and his more than 40 constituent barangay chairmen in Lamitan, capital city of Basilan, are elated that someone from their province is now at the helm of the ARMM.

“I know that introducing reforms in the regional bureaucracy is a task fraught with difficulties. I cannot do this alone. I need the support of all sectors. I only have 17 months to do this,” Hataman said.

The event was witnessed by Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Presidential Adviser on the Mindanao Peace Process Teresita Deles and President Aquino’s political adviser, Ronald Llamas.

“If we have a common objective, that of pushing forward the attainment of peace and development in the autonomous region, we cannot be adversaries,” Hataman said, apparently referring to the local officials present at the turnover rites.

Hataman said among his immediate concerns is an immediate investigation into the reported issuance of logging permits by the region’s former natural resources secretary, giving way to the wanton cutting of forest trees by poachers, even those in supposedly protected areas.

There have been reports of loggers outside the ARMM using cutting and transport permits for logs smuggled out of forestlands.

Hataman said he would also ask for Malacañang’s support in conducting an extensive mapping of the region’s remaining forest cover, particularly the forestlands in Lanao del Sur that comprise the watershed for Lake Lanao, whose downstream flow propels several state-owned hydroelectric plants that supply about three-fourths of Mindanao’s power requirement.

“The ARMM is synonymous with corruption, underdevelopment, private armies, and poverty. This is an image we want to improve through good governance,” Hataman said.

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