President Duterte vows full support to ARMM, other conflict-affected areas in Mindanao
Cotabato City (October 29, 2016) – The Duterte administration is committing full support to development initiatives in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as well as in other areas affected by recent conflicts.
The President visited ARMM’s Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex here on Saturday, October 29, to launch the ‘Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for ARMM and other Conflict-Affected Areas in Regions 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), 10 (Northern Mindanao) and 12 (Central Mindanao)’.
The new program focuses on anti-poverty projects harnessing mainly resources from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and the Technology Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“We will pour development funds in Moro areas,” said President Duterte in the vernacular noting his priority in Mindanao is eradicating hunger, especially among children, and reducing the incidence of poverty. Current statistics indicate that provinces in ARMM are on top of the list in terms of poverty incidence.
Among the high-ranking officials who were present in the event are ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueño, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and TESDA Director Guiling Mamondiong.
There are resources, the President said, that could be moved immediately mentioning Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s report that a significant number of tractors and other farm and fishery equipment are just gathering dust in government warehouses. Such equipment could not be released to target beneficiary cooperatives in recent years due to problems in raising the required counterpart fund.
“Why come up with a program for the poor that needs counterpart funding?” he asked, adding those beneficiaries don’t even have enough food to eat. “I’ll buy more for you but please take good care of those equipment, they were bought with money from the people.”
The President also mentioned the possibility of building a hospital in Jolo and in other areas in ARMM next year with funds coming from a private donation. While he did not mention the name of the donor, he said the amount is P1 billion and was originally offered to him as campaign fund before the elections. It was offered again recently saying he intends to accept it this time if used for new hospitals in ARMM.
Without uttering cuss words during his entire speech, the President, however, continued his tirade against the U.S. government and its ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. The country, he said, would survive even without American aid adding the China and Japan have expressed support to his administration’s development efforts.
Speaking before an audience comprising mostly of ARMM officials and employees, local government executives as well as representatives from national agencies operating in Central Mindanao, he again repeated his determination in winning his war on illegal drugs.
President Duterte said his closeness to Moros stems from the fact that his grandmother was a Maranao and that several of his grandchildren are part Maranao and Tausug, among the major Moro tribes on the island. (Bureau of Public Information)