Zamboanga City – “For 2017 and beyond, we aim to propose road projects that will pave the way towards the optimal utilisation of our natural and human resources as a foundation to sustainable economic development and lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.”

DPWH-ARMM Regional Secretary Don Mustapha Loong instructed the participants of the planners conference to come up with infrastructure requirements to be included in the CY 2017 budget proposals to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The conference was conducted by the Infrastructure Convergence Committee (ICC) of the Regional Economic and Development Planning Board (REDPB), in coordination with the Regional Planning and Development Office of the autonomous region (RPDO-ARMM), at the Garden Orchid Hotel in Zamboanga City, on January 28, 2016.

Loong, who is also the chairperson of ICC, explained that the planners conference, inline with the principles of inclusivity, participative and responsive governance, served to map out all the infrastructure projects of the five (5) provinces of the autonomous region from the previous years to CY 2017 and beyond. “Our target is zero backlog on infra by 2020”, said Loong.

In line with the participatory governance of ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman, the conference will zoom in not only on the ongoing infra projects but also to the proposed projects to be undertaken in each province. Through this initiative, the ICC will be able to determine which projects need to be prioritized and which ones could afford to be undertaken at a later period.

To note, DBM has given a total of 20 billion pesos funding to DPWH-ARMM for infra project implementation for CY 2016 alone, with a breakdown of 10.1B to be implemented by the Department as marked by the signing of the Public Works Act of 2016, and another 10B as the above ceiling budget lodged under DPWH Regions 9, 10, 11 and 12 which will also be implemented in the autonomous region this year. This is a far cry from decades ago when the funds approved for the Department amounted to total of 11 billion pesos only. During the current Hataman administration alone, the Department has been given a staggering 37 billion pesos for project implementation. This is roughly three times the amount DPWH-ARMM previously received from the national government for the last twenty years.

Loong attributes this astounding development to the utilization of important principles that allowed the public works department to get more projects. These include prudent fiscal discipline, right quality of projects and the right system of implementation.

For the CY 2017 budget, Loong initiated the inclusion of future projects that each engineering district office deem to be very important in their respective communities, subsequently decide which projects will be prioritized, and finally place these projects on the map. This is crucial as these will run in parallel with the running mandate of the Department and the regional government for transparency, accountability for results and the elimination of ghost projects through the use of geo-tagging, supported by actual onsite inspections.

Accordingly, there is a need to comply with the finalization of the listing for proposed projects in the earliest possible time in order to beat the deadline in March this year.

The meeting was participated by District Engineer Soler Undug of Basilan, District Engineer Abdulmunir Hadjirul Sulu 1st DEO, District Engineer Az-zamier Arbison of Sulu 2nd DEO and District Engineer Tony Kamlani of Tawi-Tawi DEO and their respective key personnel, as well as the MPDCs, PPDCs, and CPDCs of the island provinces. Also present in the ICC meeting are RLA Representatives Sulay Halipa of Tawi-Tawi District, Nedra Buharan of Sulu 1st District and Khalil Hajibin of Sulu 2nd District.

The planners conference are in congruence with the marching mantra of the Hataman administration for reform, improving the region’s competitiveness through infrastructure and supporting the flagship projects for progress and development in Muslim Mindanao.

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