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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - Lawmakers of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have effectively waived their powers over the region’s version of “pork barrel,” a privilege of allocating funds for pet projects among members of Congress.
This came about after ARMM officer-in-charge Governor Mujiv Hataman signed into law on Tuesday the Muslim Mindanao Act 229, otherwise known as the Public Works Act.
Hataman said the law scraps the district impact funds (DIP), the uses of which were normally left to full discretion of Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) members, and were said to be a huge source of corruption. Its national counterpart is the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of members of Congress.
Hataman said the DIP provision in the annually-passed regional public works law had been adopted by all past administrations since 1993.
Instead of the regional lawmakers determining their districts’ priority projects, the communities' need for infrastructure programs and projects will now be established based on assessment and evaluation of the ARMM public works department, the local civil society organizations (CSOs) and people’s organizations as well as the local government units, Hataman said.
“The bidding process will be made open to the public, with representative observers from the CSOs and the media. We will also determine if some local government units are capable of implementing their own infrastructure projects on a localized bidding process, or by administration, if they have the necessary equipment, or with the help of the Army Engineering Battalion in some cases,” he said.
The Muslim Mindanao Act 229 provides for the utilization of P2-billion infrastructure fund program that the national government annually transfers to the ARMM, as required under Republic Act 9054, the Expanded Autonomy Act which serves as the region’s charter.
Assemblywoman Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, who represents the women sector, said it would be most welcome for the Filipino people for members of Congress to also waive their privilege over PDAF provisions of the national budget, under the annual General Appropriations Act.