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Aug 09th
Home Columns Op-Ed Page The Maguindanao Massacre Was Really All About Political Control of Money from The Imperial Manila
The Maguindanao Massacre Was Really All About Political Control of Money from The Imperial Manila PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Sunday, 20 December 2009 10:47



The Maguindanao Massacre Was Really All About Political Control of Money from The Imperial Manila


It is now clear why the Ampatuan Clan of Maguindanao Province would resort to all methods – whether fair or foul, civil and/or criminal, humane or barbaric – of continuing its control of the provincial government and that of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Control of the provincial and the ARMM governments means power over the public moneys being sent by the national government AKA The Imperial Manila. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., issued a press release that said, the “Ampatuans should account for P1.7-billion in CARP Funds.” Now, Filipinos, especially those who do not come from Mindanao, can understand why the Maguindanao Massacre happened.


If plunder led to the massacre, perhaps the new President of the Philippines who will be elected on May 10, 2010, should include as part of his or her platform of government fundamental structural reforms of how funds from the national government should be dispensed in Mindanao and all other areas of the country. Obviously, more accountability and transparency have to be structured in the process of handing out national-government funds to local-government units (LGU).


And if we may add, perhaps the new Philippine President should order his/her new Secretary of Justice to file on July 1, 2010 (on his/her first day of office as President) plunder cases against the LGU officials who connived with President Gloria Arroyo’s Cabinet members in stealing most, if not all of the one-billion and seven-hundred-million pesos in CARP Funds, as reported by Senator Pimentel. Perhaps Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then as ex-President, and her Cabinet members involved in CARP Fund scandals, should be included in the plunder cases as either co-principals or at least as accessories of the LGU officials who are being brought to justice.


And finally, we wish to suggest to the present candidates for Philippine President to have a collective dialogue with the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines and other Islamic non-government organizations in Mindanao on how the suggested fundamental structural reforms can be best implemented in Southern Philippines. Perhaps the presidential candidates may want to read, and instruct their advisers to digest, Ms. Amina Rasul’s latest articles on the Maguindanao Massacre and the offered short-, medium- and long-term solutions for the social cancers that afflict the multiethnic societies of Mindanao, as found in these links:


The Filipino Islamic Society Must Turn Crisis to Opportunity for Peace and a Better World


Filipino-Islamic Leaders Discuss “Violence in Politics and the Politics of Violence”


The “Ampatuan Situation,” Martial Law and the Muslim Women’s Liberation


And here is the press release Senator Pimentel’s Press Secretary:


Ampatuans Should Account for P1.7-billion in CARP Funds


S enate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., said the Ampatuans should account for the P1.7-billion in agrarian reform fund that was released to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under anomalous circumstances during the first seven months of the year.


Senator Pimentel said the huge amount was channeled by the Department of Budget and Management to the ARMM in five separate tranches upon recommendation of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman despite the failure of DAR and ARMM to submit a listing of specific projects as required by disbursement rules.


Moreover, he questioned the basis for giving out the money to the ARMM, then headed by Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, considering that the autonomous region does not fall under the coverage of CARP.


Of the Pl.7-billion that was released to the ARMM which is composed of five provinces, P500-million went to Maguindanao, the official records show.


“Although the huge lump sums in agrarian reform fund were released to the ARMM, there are widespread complaints that no actual development projects have been undertaken,” the senator from Mindanao said.


“There is a strong ground to believe that the money has been misused. This could be one of the probable sources of the fabulous but unexplained wealth of the Ampatuans. This could partly explain why they were able to acquire a lot of properties, several mansions in Maguindanao, Davao City, Metro Manila and other places.”


Senator Pimentel said that he had exposed this illegal fund diversion several months ago but Secretary Pangandaman, as well as Malacañang and DBM officials have not bothered to give any explanation.


A listing of the special allotment release order (SARO) and Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) under the CARP showed that the following lump sum amounts had been released to ARMM from February to July this year: P350-million on Feb. 15, P222.7-million on Feb. 15, P322.5-million on June 22, P400-million on June 2 and P373-million on July l.


Senator Pimentel urged the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate these scandalous transactions by seeking an explanation from the Ampatuans, along with the finance officials of the DAR and ARMM, and even the resident auditor of the Commission on Audit.


“The Office of the Ombudsman should not sleep on the job.  If there is evidence of fund misuse, they should file plunder cases against the Ampatuans and their accomplices. They would not be able to build those palatial mansions without the money stolen from government coffers,” he said.


The opposition senator said it is unconscionable that the people of Maguindanao and other ARMM provinces are being deprived of development projects and public services they are entitled to because they are regularly receiving funds from various sources.


Senator Pimentel said that aside from the annual budget of ARMM, the region’s Provinces – Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi Tawi – are also getting their shares of the Internal Revenue Allotment and development aid from donor-countries and multilateral financing institutions. # # #

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Last Updated on Sunday, 20 December 2009 10:53

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