Mindanao solons push for abolition of ARMM

January 6, 2010 11:36 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Jan. 6 — Two Mindanao lawmakers have joined the clamor for the abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the wake of the November 23 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province.

Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo "Ompong" Plaza, a senatorial candidate under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino-PDP Laban, said that the real problem in the region was the failure of governance under ARMM.

He pointed out that the autonomous body was riddled with graft and corruption and ruled by heavily-armed warlords.

Plaza cited the plight of the teachers in the ARMM who allegedly had not been getting their salaries and without the coverage of Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Pag-IBIG Fund.

He claimed that for those who wanted to join the Philippine National Police (PNP), they had to shell out P500,000 for them to be admitted into the police force.

On the other hand, Lanao del Norte Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo claimed that he was against ARMM since its inception as "it is not good for us."

He said that ARMM had been instrumental in further alienating Muslims and Christians in Mindanao.

"We really need more friendly and harmonious contacts with Christians to ensure lasting peace in the area," he added.

Meanwhile, Plaza vowed to deliver Mindanao from the lamentable tag of the "promised land."

For decades now, Plaza said, Mindanao had been wallowing in poverty, lawlessness and misrepresentation in the government, adding that if the trend continued, Mindanao might take steps that would be disastrous to the nation.

The three-term Agusan del Sur congressman, now eyeing a senatorial berth, said that he would be a "new and real voice of a forsaken Mindanao who would work out a new deal for Mindanao and not to allow it to separate from the Philippines."

Plaza said that the coming May elections would be a defining moment for a Filipino leader to champion the real and hard issues that had consigned Mindanao to where it is now — a promised land.

He noted that the inequality that bedevils Mindanao should be the crux of Philippine governance, citing that Mindanao that had been contributing 30 percent to the Philippine economy had been getting only nine percent from the national budget.

Plaza vowed to be different from the national leaders who had allowed Mindanao to be forever a victim of broken promises. (PNA)



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