Changing horses in the middle of the stream

A GROUP of foreign donors and creditor-institutions are said to be very satisfied with the way the current crop of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao regional officials led by acting Gov. Ansaruddin Adiong are implementing their projects in the region, giving credit to their policy of transparency and good governance.

But recently, they have discreetly asked among themselves the real reason why the Palace and Congress want to postpone the Aug. 8, 2011 elections to May 2013 and appoint officers-in-charge in place of the incumbent regional officials.

In a forum held last Monday in Makati City, the international agency officials have avoided officially commenting on the merits or demerits of the plan for the ARMM, saying the issue is “internal” to the Philippine government.

They include officials and representatives from the World Bank, Japan International Coordination Agency (JICA), UN-World Food Program (WFP), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Union (EU).

With the expected political turmoil in the ARMM soon, they appealed to the incumbent ARMM officials (during the forum) to adopt measures that would institutionalize an operational structure that would ensure continuity of their finished and on-going programs and projects in the region.

Key officials of the international agencies, I was informed, took turns in presenting their varied appraisals, generally describing as “very successful” or “satisfactory” the administration of foreign-funded projects in the region through the ARMM Social Fund Project (ASFP) under the one-year old Adiong leadership.


The ARMM is set to receive from the national government at least P2 billion for its capital outlay expenditures – P850 million for 2010 and P1billion for 2011 – and this could be the primary reason why some of President Aquino’s advisers want the ARMM polls postponed and just appoint at least 27 OICs who will run it until 2013.

Incumbent officials of the ARMM, of course, would all wanted to push through with the scheduled ARMM polls on August 8 this year. They say many things will happen in three years and it would be worse if those who will run the ARMM will just be OICs who have no mandate from the ARMM folks.

The foreign donors for the ARMM development are wary of the continuity of their projects once these Malacanang-appointed OICs will wield power because new leaders are expected to adopt new policies and appoint subordinates for their various interests.

Whether or not the ARMM leadership undergoes change of guard, Mark Woodward, a key official of the World Ban, says they wanted to “pursue” projects that address underdevelopment and peace concerns in the region.

My friends based in Cotabato City say the present crop of ARMM officials led by Adiong are doing good at their jobs and the locals have high respect and regard for what he has done in the region since he assumed his post one year ago. Many say that the now 21-year old ARMM is not broke. So why fix it? It’s not good to be changing horses in the middle of the stream.


For feedback and comments, please email me at Romie Evangelista

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