ARMM Social Fund Project "Information Caravan" held in Tawi-Tawi
The ARMM Social Fund Project (ASFP) through its Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Sub-component held its 3rd of the series of “Information Caravan” in the province of Tawi-Tawi last April 24 to 28, 2006.
ASFP Executive Director Alejandro Coscos said local government officials in the area, officials of ARMM-DSWD and selected Mindanao-based journalists from Cotabato and Zamboanga of local and national coverage participated in the 4-day caravan.
Coscos said the caravan is one of the strategies to effect massive information advocacy in ARMM communities and also a venue where LGU officials and media interface to tackle as well as document processes involved in the execution of projects in the communities.
The caravan also intends to strengthen the advocacy campaign of the ARMM Social Fund Projects in order to inform and reach out all stakeholders especially the local communities in the remotest barangays of the autonomous region.
The first information caravan was undertaken in the municipalities of Shariff Aguak and Paglat in the province of Maguindanao in December of last year. This was followed in the Province of Lanao del Sur from February 26 to March 1.
Tire path, water system, vegetable gardening (part of the Learning Livelihood and Food Sufficiency program), solar drier, warehouse, health center and class rooms were among the completed projects that were covered and documented by the media participants.
During the caravan in Tawi-Tawi, DSWD-ARMM Secretary Ruby Sahali Tan inaugurated a newly completed school building, and footbridge in Barangay Kepeng, Tandubas, and a multi-purpose and fishlanding in Barangays of Tondon and Balimbing in Panglima Sugala.
“We are very elated over these projects by ARMM Social Fund. Certainly, the new school building and other small-scale infrastructures that we turned over today gladdened the eyes of Samal and Badjao recipients,” Ms. Tan said.
Pelina Atalad, 50, a mother of five children of Barangay Kepeng, told mediamen that with the new school building, the quality of education in their village and the learning of their children would be improved.“Our children can now study properly,” she said.
For Matbin Muhammad, 32, another resident of Barangay Kepeng, said the installation of footbridge in their village had reduced burden for many residents passing in the area. “The footbridge now is much better which in the past we could hardly pass with our pushcarts.”
Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali told newsmen who paid a courtesy call on him at the provincial capitol that the decision of President Arroyo to place the ARMM Social Fund under the full control and supervision of the ARMM regional government is appropriate.
“We expect that more projects would be implemented all over the region because the regional governor (Zaldy Ampatuan) has now the full control over the ARMM Social Fund,” Sahali said.
Adding that, “Unlike in the past we really don’t know where those development funds go. But this year 2006 we expect that P72 million worth of projects that include the regional, provincial and district impact projects will be poured in to the province.”
It will be recalled that on February 18, 2006, Governor Ampatuan led a delegation, which included his cabinet members and regional assemblymen in Malacanang to ask President Arroyo to put back the control and supervision of the ARMM Social Fund to the regional government.
After the ARMM chief executive explained to the President the importance of retaining the ARMM Social Fund to the Regional Government, the President decided to reconsider her decision and directed the immediate amendment of Executive Order No. 496.
E.O. 496, which the President signed on January 23, 2006, placed the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO), ARMM Social Fund for Peace and Development, Mindanao Peace and Development Fund and Office on Muslim Affairs under the oversight of the OPAPP.
The ARMM leadership particularly brought to the attention of the President Section 2 of the said E.O. which provides “The Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process shall oversee and whenever appropriate, have the authority to direct and/or manage projects related to the government’s comprehensive peace and development efforts.”
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Ampatuan was elated with the favorable decision of the president. He thanked and assured President Arroyo that the leadership and the people of ARMM are all supportive to her administration.
ARMM Social Fund is a US$33.6 million government loan project from the World Bank, which was created by virtue of Executive Order 124 signed by the President on September 12, 2002 whose main purpose is to support the peace and development efforts of the regional government. It has been implementing projects in identified barangays in the five component provinces and one city of the Muslim autonomous region since 2003.
It also assists communities through its CDA Component by providing financial and technical assistance to plan and manage small-scale livelihood and infrastructure projects needed by the community members. LGUs, government agencies, NGOs and other partners work together to support the community-led implementation of sub-projects.
Six barangays in every municipality can be assisted or around 500-600 barangays in all municipalities of ARMM. Type of assistance for communities includes the learning/livelihood/food sufficiency, small-scale infrastructures and trainings and capacity-building activities.
The community will directly manage the implementation of sub-projects. The municipal teams composed of LGUs, DSWD staff, and NGOs will assist the communities as they undertake their own projects. (ZS)