Cotabato City―A member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament has assured Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman that nothing in efforts to audit public spending during the tenure of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was motivated to malign his past leadership of the region.
BTA Parliament Member Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan over the weekend said he had much earlier filed the Bangsamoro resolution, seeking audit on ARMM assets, resource utilization, and liabilities, as provided under Republic Act 11054 (Article 16, Section 10), the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Lidasan said audit does not only pertain to money, but is also essentially about inventory of movable and fixed assets like vehicles and buildings and fixtures like equipment, and even of human resources, noting also that it is the usual procedure or norms in all transitions and government reorganization processes.
In an earlier statement, Hataman said he wondered “where that P 113.4 billion came from when the budget of ARMM was only P 38 billion from 2012 to 2020.”
Hataman said he welcomed a call by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for audit of the ARMM, adding that he had filed a resolution asking the leadership of the House of Representatives for a congressional midterm review of BARMM’s accomplishment in the last 18 months, and that he also included in that proposed measure an audit of the defunct ARMM.
However, Lidasan said while he believed it was well-intended, a midterm review could only be fairly undertaken if an audit of the defunct ARMM had been made, but which did not happen before the February 2019 turnover to the BARMM leadership.
Meanwhile, Public Works Minister Eduard Guerra of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) had hardly been available for comment. But an emissary said the huge amount (P 113.4 billion) mentioned may have been “accumulative of all 3,784 previous regional projects that have remained unfinished” as of 2020.
Reached for comment, a CoA official, who asked not to be named, for lack of “specific delegation of authority (to speak) on the matter” said special audits have been made on ARMM at various times, even prior to the one requested by the national government in 2010, apparently in the aftermath of Maguindanao Massacre.
According to an assistant, Guerra’s audit request to CoA was prompted by written complaints logged his office by at least three mayors from Lanao del Sur, including the province’s League of Municipalities president, that various roads and other infrastructure projects have been either hardly implemented or are “left unfinished,” particularly, along municipal sections of the Lake Dapao Circumferential Road.
For instance, the construction of the Butig-Barira-Buldon Provincial Road section in Butig, Lanao del Sur was worth P 87,300,000.00 of which, P 42,322,500.00 or more than 50 percent of its fund had been disbursed. However, only about 15.5 percent of the project was actually completed when abandoned in 2016.
Auditors have remarked that only P 5,100,300.00 was “available but (is) not sufficient to complete the project.”
Notably, Butig is the burial place of Moro revolutionary leader Sheikh Salamat Hashim, founding chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and founding vice-chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
It was reported earlier that CoA had “flagged the BARMM to fast-track the implementation of the P2.34-billion shelter projects undertaken in 2018 by the ARMM.”
The BARMM also had to complete P 617,588,330.00 worth of projects, of which, P 464,711,388.23 had been disbursed as of December 2016.
In cases wherein a contractor and a state agency fail to agree on completion of a procured contract, the contracting government office is usually under “force-account” to add extra cost and continue to implement the project via “administration” mode.
Another project that BARMM would have to complete from ARMM term is the concreting of Dapao-Illana Road, Pualas, Lanao del Sur (Phase 4) in 2018. It was worth P 50 million with 20 percent actual accomplishment rate but was allegedly paid 65 percent or P 32 million.
A portion of the concreting of Dapao-Illana Road, Phase 5 in Pualas, Lanao del Sur, undertaken in 2019 by another private contractor has been fairly completed in the tenure of the ARMM.
The concreting of Lake Dapao Circumferential Road, Phase 3 in Pualas, Lanao del Sur was worth P 54 million. It was 18.70 percent done for P 10 million worth of works, materials, mobilization and administrative costs, but was purportedly paid 100 percent for P 54 million in 2016, according to audit reports sent to BARMM.