ARMM Provinces Get Stimulus Funds

COTABATO CITY - The five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) got additional shares from the P8.6-billion fund under the Transition Investment Support Plan (TISP), which the Aquino government had designed to stimulate development efforts that would bring the ARMM at pace with the country's progressive regions.

In a symbolic ceremony here Monday, the local governments of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi received an average of P10-million each intended to spur agriculture projects and improve the lives of constituent-farmers and fishermen in the region, ARMM caretaker-Governor Mujiv Hataman said yesterday.

ARMM Agriculture Secretary Maritess Maguindra assisted Hataman in distributing the checks to Governors Mamintal Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur, Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Sakur Tan of Sulu, Sadikul Sahali of Tawi-Tawi, and Jum Akbar of Basilan at the sidelight of the regular meeting here of the Regional Economic Development and Planning Board (REDPB).

Maguindra said the initial grants constituted just 47 percent of the total share of the provincial governments from the TISP's agriculture and fisheries package for the ARMM. Fund for such package was partially downloaded to the ARMM government last week, it was learned.

The TISP, which the national government launched in early 2012, aims to uplift living conditions in support of Malacañang's peace efforts in Mindanao, particularly with its current negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that seek to transform the ARMM into a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro.

The TISP, under which appropriations are called "stimulus funds," also has separate packages for medical and health, infrastructure, education and other development concerns in the ARMM.

The ARMM's five provincial governors acknowledged earlier receipts of infrastructure building funds, which they said had been promptly implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Maguindra said additional grants under the agriculture package will again be released as soon as the ARMM government receives the remaining TISP funds from the Department of Budget and Management.